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Igor Bišćan ( ; born May 4, 1978 in Zagrebmarker, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslaviamarker) is a Croatian professional footballer, currently playing for Dinamo Zagreb. He also played for Champions League winners Liverpool and Greek Panathinaikos, also spending one-year loan at NK Samobor in his early career. Bišćan represented Croatia at the international level, debuting in UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying match against Macedonia in Skopjemarker on 13 June 1999.

Club career

Early days

At the start of his career Bišćan began to amass an impressive level of playing experience, representing Croatia at youth football level and then captaining his club, Dinamo Zagreb, in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He was part of what is considered the most successful era of Dinamo Zagreb in Prva HNL, winning two consecutive league titles, in 1999 and 2000, and participating in two consecutive group stages of Champions League (Group A, 1998–99 and Group D, 1999–2000). During his four seasons in Croatia Bišćan bagged eleven goals in 84 appearances in domestic leagues, which brought attention of foreign clubs to promising midfielder.

Move to Anfield

On 8 December 2000, his contract was bought by Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier for £5.5 million, having been sought after by Juventus, Barcelona, Ajax and A.C. Milan. Although Bišćan was originally signed as a central midfielder, Gérard Houllier felt he was more useful as centre back and often played Bišćan out of his natural position, sometimes even as a winger or full back. His debut came in a Premier League match against Ipswich, which Liverpool lost 1–0, with Bišćan coming off the bench to replace Christian Ziege in 71st minute. A week later he played full 90 minutes against Manchester United at Old Traffordmarker, with Liverpool breaking 3,240 minutes of United's undefeated run at their home ground by defeating them 1–0. He notched up 21 appearances by the end of the 2000–01 season, of which he started in 15 and coming off the bench in 6 matches. His scored his first goal for Liverpool on 14 January 2001, bagging a goal in 18th minute of the 2000–01 League Cup match against Crystal Palace in a 5–0 victory. Unfortunately for Bišćan, he was cup–tied and therefore illegible to play for Liverpool in their UEFA Cup winning season.

After departure of Houllier, the new manager Rafael Benítez significantly devalued Bišćan's importance to the first team squad, which resulted in Bišćan capping only 23 appearances in the next two seasons, spending a total of 37 matches on the bench without being used as a substitute. A major injury crisis of the team in 2003–04 season gave Bišćan a comeback chance, and by the start of the new Premier League season he was returned back into the first eleven. By the end of the season Bišćan featured in 39 matches, of which 30 he played until full time. Unfortunately he was sent–off in 36th minute of Liverpool's UEFA Cup second leg match against Marseille, which turned things around for Liverpool as they were knocked–out of the competition.

In 2004–05 season played a vital part in Liverpool's run to the finals of the Champions League and was notable particularly for his marauding runs from midfield during matches against Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea F.C.. He was an unused substitute against AC Milan but still ended up with a winner's medal. His last official match for the Reds was on 15 May 2005, in a Premier League clash against Aston Villa. During his last season Bišćan scored two more goals (against Fulham and Bolton) and made a total of 35 appearances.

As a Liverpool player he also made a cameo appearance in the movie Goal!, scoring a header in the final game of the movie when Newcastle faced Liverpool.

Panathinaikos move

Following his contract termination with the Reds, on 15 June 2005, Bišćan signed for one of the two major Greekmarker clubs, Panathinaikos. During his two years in Athensmarker he made 36 appearances and scored 3 goals. Unfortunately, Bišćan had a huge decline in game, disappointing both the fans and the club owners. On 1 June 2007, Bišćan's contract expired and the club showed no interest in renewing his contract, so he was free-agent once again.

Return to Dinamo

The next six months Bišćan spent resting from football and mostly avoiding the huge public interest shown for him. He was constantly approached by Dinamo Zagreb director Zdravko Mamić, who was interested in bringing Biščan back to his home club. After months of negotiations, Bišćan finally signed contract on 3 December 2007. Although he was massively criticized for his lacking performances by the fans, Bišćan rose to become the captain of the club after the departure of Luka Modrić to Tottenham Hotspur. Following his return Dinamo played for two consecutive seasons in UEFA Cup group stages, also winning two domestic league titles and two Croatian Cup titles.

National team

Bišćan's debut appearance for Croatia came on a UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying match against Macedonia in Skopjemarker on 13 June 1999. His scored his first and only international goal against Mexico on 16 June 1999. He also collected yellow cards on three occasions. Eleven out of fifteen Croatia's matches Bišćan featured in have finished by a draw. His last official match was against Scotland on 1 September 2001. After leaving the national team camp in 2003, Bišćan has been suspended by Croatian Football Federation and has refused to play for the national team ever since, although he has not yet announced his retirement, leaving chance that he might accept invitation to national team in the future. He also represented Croatia at the under–21 level and was capped in the Croatia B team on one occasion.

International goal

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
01. 10 September 2008 Seoul World Cup Stadiummarker, Seoulmarker, Koreamarker
n/a
2 – 1
Friendly match


Honours





Career statistics



1 Featured in the 2001 FA Charity Shield.


References

  1. National team appearances statistics at sportnet.hr
  2. Career statistics at Nogometni Magazin
  3. Career statistics at transfermarkt.de
  4. Career statistics at Dinamo Zagreb's official website
  5. Career statistics at lfchistory.net
  6. Career statistics at National Football Teams


External links



1997–98 Samobor Prva HNL 12 1 12 1
Dinamo Zagreb 5 0 5 0
1998–99 19 2 19 2
1999–00 29 6 29 6
2000–01 14 3 14 3

2000–01 Liverpool Premier League 13 0 4 0 4 1 0 0 21 1
2001–02 5 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 101 0
2002–03 6 0 1 0 3 0 3 0 13 0
2003–04 29 0 1 0 2 0 7 0 39 0
2004–05 19 2 1 0 6 0 9 0 35 2

2005–06 Panathinaikos Super League Greece 20 3 6 0 26 3
2006–07 16 0 5 0 21 0

2007–08 Dinamo Zagreb Prva HNL 9 0 0 0 0 0 9 0
2008–09 27 1 6 1 12 2 45 4
2009–10 5 0 0 0 6 1 11 1
132||14||6||1||||||18||3||156||18
72||2||7||0||15||1||23||0||117||3
36||3||||||||||11||0||47||3
240||19||13||1||15||1||52||3||320||24

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