Home Uncategorized Summertime Madness: Dodgy Dealing No. 1 – Robert Jarni to Coventry City

Summertime Madness: Dodgy Dealing No. 1 – Robert Jarni to Coventry City

As the transfer window is slowly closing on us once more we are reminded that not all transfers end happily ever after for player and club. While some players may stay with a club for twenty years, others stay for what seems like twenty minutes.

In this week’s look into the weird and wacky world of football’s transfers, we’ll cast an eye on three players who passed through some of England’s biggest clubs for a short time before moving on to pastures new. They were just passing through it seemed.

Here’s the first in our three-part series on dodgy dealings; Robert Jarni to Coventry City.

1. Robert Jarni – Coventry City 1998

To start us off is a transfer as suspicious as it is hilarious. It’s none other that Robert Jarni’s transfer to Coventry City in 1998. Coventry was an odd destination for the Croatian fullback as 1998 was one of the greatest years in his entire career.

He had given a season of stellar performances for Real Betis that year but more important he had made a name for himself at France 1998 as part of Croatia’s remarkable run that culminated in a third place finish.

While many of us remember the ’98 World Cup for Zinedine Zidane’s powering performances, the Ronaldo controversy and England’s penalty woes, Croatia’s progress through the tournament captured the interest of many, especially football scouts looking for a bargain.

Amidst the likes of Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban, Goran Vlaovic, and Mario Stanic was Robert Jarni; an exciting, progressive full-back, whose marauding runs up the touchline became synonymous with Croatia’s style of play.

After the tournament, Jarni caught the interest of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Jarni’s club, Real Betis, were ready to listen to offers. What happened next is the subject of much speculation.

After the World Cup finished, people awaited Jarni’s next destination? A top four club in England? Maybe an Italian team? Or Germany perhaps? What happened next shocked the footballing world.

Jarni moved to none other than Gordan Strachan’s Coventry City, a team that had finished 11th in the Premiership in the 1997/1998 season, a team that was expected to be battling relegation in the upcoming season. Incredible stuff. Yet it had happened. £2.5million and Jarni was Coventry’s man.

Coventry fans were shell-shocked and elated, but less than a week after signing for Coventry, Jarni was once more on the move. His destination this time? Real Madrid for about £3.5 million.

Betis fans smelled a conspiracy. Betis had refused Madrid’s offers earlier in the window and many believed that Coventry was simply a means of getting Jarni to Real Madrid. Jarni himself maintains it was a family decision to remain in Spain and to be fair Madrid is perhaps somewhat more appealing than Coventry for some footballers.

Nevertheless, Jarni’s short spell at Coventry lasted one week and in that time he never kicked a ball for the Sky Blues. His transfer should be a warning to all clubs, players are only here for a short while.


Conor Heffernan, Pundit Arena.

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