Full name: Bojan Krkic Perez
Born: 28 August 1990 in Linyola, Spain
Nationality: dual (Spain and Serbia)
Height: 1 72 m
Clubs: until 1998: Bellpuig. Since 1999: Barcelona.
Honours: 2007: European U-17 Championship winner (and player of the tournament) and runner-up in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Korea. First-division debut: 16 September 2007. UEFA Champions League debut: 19 September 2007. 800 goals for Barcelona at youth level!
The Striker Who Has Got The Lot
Spanish born but of Serbian descent, 17-year-old Bojan Krkic has already made a name for himself at Barcelona and earned a call-up to the Spanish national team. Many consider him a superstar in the making.
Unlike many teenagers who only start to think about career choices on finishing school, 17-year-old Bojan Krkic, who is half-Serbian but was born in Linyola (Catalonia) had known what he wanted to be from the age of nine: not only a footballer, but a goalscorer and an insatiable one at that. His record of 800 goals at youth level for Barcelona, many of which have been filmed and posted on the internet, are the most tangible evidence of the player that Bojan could become in the not-too-distant future and he is already one of the most promising talents in football and the recipient of a Barcelona first-team squad number (27).
It only took a few games last season for him to be fast-tracked into playing first-division football and during a summer tour of Scotland in 2007, Barcelona’s Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard decided not to loan him out but instead drafted him into the senior squad for this season, in which by early March he had already played 32 matches, starting ten of them and scoring five goals.
All Bojan’s team-mates agree on one thing: he is the complete striker and lives to score goals, but is no lesser a technical player for that. Quite the contrary: he can both play and bring others into the game. He scores hatfuls of goals, but he also helps out his team-mates if necessary or if one of them is in a better position. He has already won over the Barcelona
fans, who give him a standing ovation every time he warms up as a substitute and are happy when the absence of one of Barcelona’s top-quality forwards creates a slot for Bojan in the starting line-up.
Bojan Krkic’s story began when his father, Bojan Sr, a former footballer from Serbia who played for Catalonian club Mollerusa and before that, Red Star Belgrade and OFK Belgrade, fell in love with Maria Lluisa Perez, a nurse from Lerida, Catalonia. After hanging up his boots, Krkic Sr became a scout for Barcelona, then joined the technical staff.
This is the atmosphere in which Bojan Krkic grew up as he progressed from Bellpuig, a club in the very youngest age group, to the Barcelona youth system, where he scored 800 goals (at an impressive average of 3.5 goals per match), thus quickly exciting curiosity in the Barcelona set-up and prompting the decision – similar to Dutch club Ajax’s policy of fast-tracking outstanding young players – to promote him to a higher playing level so that he could get used to playing with older, stronger and more powerful team-mates and accelerate his development.
At “Children’s A” level, Bojan had shown his character by clinching the league in the 95th minute of the final match, but it was at “Cadets A” level, where he scored 32 goals in 26 matches, that he really came to prominence, earning himself promotion to “Youth B”, then “Youth A”, where his goal against Badalona on the last day of the season won his club the title.
After scoring six goals in six matches, he was promoted to the Barcelona B team in the Spanish Segunda B (third division). They had been looking for a goalscorer and found the player they needed right under their noses.
“I DON’T MIND”
Bojan seemed the perfect solution and he repaid the club’s faith by scoring 14 goals at the age of 16 at a level where some players had already turned professional. On the basis of that record and some impressive performances for the Spanish U-17 side, Rijkaard began to gently break him into the senior Barcelona side. Bojan’s baptism of fire came during Barcelona’s summer tour of Scotland in preparation for the 2007-08 season. It was there that the Dutchman realised that he, together with the Mexican, Giovanni Dos Santos, were ready for the first-team squad and decided not to loan him out to another team and include him in his plans, thus placing a great deal of faith in him.
Bojan’s first-team debut came against Egyptian side Al Ahly on 24 July 2007 (and included a goal) and on 16 September 2007 he made his Spanish top-flight debut, thus becoming the third-youngest player to represent Barcelona in a first-division match. Three days later, he made his first appearance in the UEFA Champions League against Lyon, coming on for Lionel Messi, whom he already knew from La Masia, Barcelona’s youth academy.
A natural goalscorer, Bojan does not appear to have problems with either attacking the goal or playing side-on to it and although he is willing to play on the wing, he is clearly a centre forward. “I also like playing on the wing because I can run with the ball, but as long as I’m playing, I don’t mind where,” he says.
HALTED BY DIZZY SPELL
In the Spanish junior teams, Bojan soon forged a reputation as a goalscorer with excellent technique, particularly at U-17 level where he won the European Championship and helped Spain to the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2007 in Korea. Despite winning the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third-best player and the Bronze Shoe as the third-highest goalscorer with five goals, he also endured the bitterest moment of his short but intense career when he was sent off in the semi-final against Ghana for two yellow-card offences and thus missed the final against Nigeria in Seoul, as a result of which Spain’s chances of victory also suffered a blow.
However, thanks to his performances at youth level and the excellent reports from national youth team coach Inaki Saez, he was brought to the attention of senior national team coach Luis Aragones. His growing popularity and consistent performances for Barcelona earned a call-up to the Spanish senior side last February to make his debut in a friendly against France. Unfortunately, he suffered a dizzy spell a few days before the match and was unable to play. At 17 years, five months and nine days he would have been the youngest debutant in the history of the Spanish national team, surpassing the Basque, Angel Zubieta (17 years, nine months and nine days, dating back to 1936) and Cesc Febregas of Arsenal (18 years and 10 months).
Far from lamenting his bad luck, Bojan continues to grow both as a player and in the estimation of Barcelona fans, to the extent that he has surprised himself. “I didn’t expect it to happen so soon and I have to thank the club and the people,” he says without a hint of nervousness. “I know that you have to take it step by step, as Rijkaard has been doing, and I completely agree and am very comfortable with that,” he says with the same assuredness with which he also recalls that he had already decided what he wanted to be by the age of nine: a goalscorer.