The appointment of Slaven Bilic as head coach of West Brom was a surprise when it was announced in June.
It was a great blow for the Baggies, who had lost the last period in the play-offs of the Championship, having obtained the signature of a man who had become accustomed to administering in the main divisions around the world, as well as on the international stage .
Many will also remember him from his playing days, when he went to West Ham and Everton for a period of three and a half years in the Premier League. But as accomplished as the game has become, how many know the story behind the man?
It began in the late 1980s, when the Croatian was already making a name for himself with the local Hajduk Split club.
"We were rich in education, we had a good life," Bilic explained to Sky bet.
"My father is a doctor of economic sciences, so we had education and we were quite rich, that's why my brother and I were always good at school, and that's why I finished law in college. We grew up with school as number one , but my father was also crazy about football.
"We had a good life, to be fair, but we wanted to have our own country and when it all started in the 90s with Russia, the USSR, in my hometown it was an atmosphere of war."
"Many young people were in the army, their families were. It was psychologically bad, but the war was basically 30, 40, 50 miles from Split. Thank God, he was only in Split in my hometown for a couple of weeks." "We don't join the army, but the president (Slobodan Milosevic) said we have to be like ambassadors of Croatia, so we play in the league."
The league in question is the First Croatian Football League, today known as the Hrvatski Telekom Prva League, which was established in 1992. Split were founding members, inaugural champions and winners of the Croatian Super Cup that season.
Bilic, who had been in demand at the time of the founding of the league, remained until 1993, but as the war spread in the East, he joined the Bundesliga team Karlsruher SC, before signing for West Ham three years later.
"Most of us who were able to go abroad," he said. "I went to Germany, other boys went to Italy, then to England, I'm talking (in the early 90's), when England was not so open to foreign players. We were there as ambassadors of Croatia."
"Then we started playing for the national team and we played well in Euro 96 with Davor Suker, with (Zvonimir) Boban, with all of them. We are proud to represent our country."
"It was my father who taught me that, in addition to our country, it is English football. But as I said before, England was not so open to foreign players, some Scandinavians or whatever, but very rarely (many foreigners)."
"In the 80s, Italy and Serie A were the best with the best players there. England was only after Eurocopa 96 when it had a great, great boom of foreigners."
He was a figure as dominant as he was during his career as a player, especially a member of the Croatia team that finished third in the 1998 World Cup, was a race that spanned only 12 years and ended as he had started, with Split.
Since 2001 Bilic has been in full-time management, with its longest period between 2006 and 2012, when he led his country to Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.
There has also been an emotional return to West Ham, and as if returning was not enough, the 51-year-old was the last manager to take over the club at Upton Park in 2016.
"It was (a special moment) to return to a club you played for. It is not a cliché. It was the same stadium, we were still in the same training camp at Chadwell Heath, it was amazing, and that season we played very good football.
"It was a special season because it was the last season at Upton Park. We did well, especially against the big canyons, we beat them all and then we broke, I don't know, seven or eight records."
"We beat them well and we played well and the fans really enjoyed it. And we enjoyed it. Unfortunately we were so close to the Champions League, but it was a great year and I was very, very proud of what we achieved, our staff and players ".
A terrible start to the 2017/18 season saw Bilic lose his job in November 2017 and after a fruitless period in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ittihad between September 2018 and February 2019, he found himself out of work.
The next opportunity was not far away and, in June, he held the vacant position in West Brom after Jimmy Shan's tenure as caregiver came to an end after the defeat in the Baggies tie-break semifinal against Aston Villa. It was a surprising agreement, but one that Bilic quickly knew was right.
"I know it is outdated in a good way, a family club, like a family club, and I like those values. They called me and we made the deal basically after a couple of hours. I didn't know it was going to work." be like that, but I had a feeling and it's exactly as I imagined.
"I like this kind of training ground, which smells like grass. It's not a five-star hotel, but it's clean and you have everything you need to work.
"The club was really good at keeping the players we wanted to keep, and by adding some young and fresh players with fresh energy, because the club's plan was to make the team a little younger and try to return (to the Premier League ) in two, three years, if possible, immediately, of course, but it was not essential.
"The new players clicked immediately. We wanted reliable and responsible players to play both ways, in both parts of the game, and we want to be as young as possible, as British as possible, but also have some quality and have a good group of players. "
Under his direction, the club stands out in the Championship this period, as expected. They are undefeated in the nine league games in The Hawthorns and have already lost three games less than at the same point in the last period.
His stay in the second level could end up being shorter than planned, but Bilic has been absorbed by the division's challenge.
He concluded: "When I was in West Ham, I saw the Championship, of course, you can't ignore it, you don't ignore football, not to mention the Championship, but you're not totally involved in it. Suddenly, in the last seven or Eight years it became a very good football league.
"It's hard, I love it. I was in the Premier League and now I'm in a Championship, and many, many players who play in the Championship can have a great career in the Premier League. And definitely West Brom players, many of them . "
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