West Ham United’s pre-season trip to Cork has seen new manager Slaven Bilic meet some of his new players. Academy Director Terry Westley has taken the majority of
training in Ireland but Bilic was joined upon his arrival by some of his new backroom team – Nikola Jurcevic, Edin Terzic and Miljenko Rak.
Nikola Jurcevic was a midfielder, standing just short of 6’, who played for Dinamo Zagreb and NK Zagreb with a spell in Belgium with Antwerp in the 1988/89 season sandwiched in between. He moved to Austria in 1991, signing for the club now known as Red Bull Salzburg, and spent four years there, scoring 42 goals in 130 appearances.
From there he joined German side Freiburg; while he was with the German club, Jurcevic appeared three times for Croatia at Euro ’96. Wearing number 2, he made his first appearance in the tournament as an 82nd minute substitute in the 3-0 win over Denmark before playing the full 90 minutes in the 3-0 defeat to Portugal. He started in a holding midfield role for the 2-1 quarter-final loss to eventual tournament winners Germany before being substituted in the 78th minute, a game which saw former Hammer Igor Stimac sent off with the score at 1-1. Bilic, incidentally, played every minute of Croatia’s tournament.
In 1997, Jurcevic returned to Salzburg where he ended his playing career in 1999. He has since managed former clubs NK Zagreb in 2002/03, when they finished 6th in the league and reached the quarter-finals in the Croatian Cup, and Dinamo Zagreb in 2003/04, where he won the Croatian Cup and finished runners-up in the league. A brief spell as manager back at Salzburg lasted just over a month in the spring of 2005 before a similarly short spell in charge of Slaven Belupo in his homeland. Jurcevic, along with ex-Derby midfielder Aljosa Asanovic, was appointed as one of Bilic’s assistants for the national team and he remained in post between 2006 and 2012. He has since followed Bilic to Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas.
Edin Terzic is a 32-year-old who was Bilic’s first-team coach at Besiktas; Super Slav has described Terzic as being “really good with players”. Terzic, a right-sided midfielder, played in the German lower leagues from 2001 to 2013, with his most notable club being SG Wattenscheid in the 2006/07 season. He was assistant coach for Borussia Dortmund’s Under-19s and Under-17s between 2010 and 2013.
Miljenko Rak is a 67-year-old who will join as fitness coach. He held a similar role when working with the Croatia handball team who won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and with Janica Kostelic, a Croatian alpine skier who is the most successful participant in her sport in the history of the Winter Olympics. Rak also worked with Bilic during his time at Besiktas.
A collection of Bilic’s former Hammers’ team-mates have also been the subject of speculation regarding roles at the club since the Croatian’s appointment. Steve Potts is already working with the Development Squad, while Julian Dicks’ appointment as a first-team coaching assistant was confirmed yesterday. John Moncur, Ian Bishop, John Hartson and Steve Lomas have all been linked with coaching positions.