In this series I shall be looking back at some of the lesser lights to have played for Forest. The guys who come in with a bit of a fanfare and then do nothing. People forget they ever played for the club. They may well have done well for somebody else before, or after Forest, but for us were less than amazing.
Nikola Jerkan was a 6’2 Croatian defender signed from Real Oviedo of Spain. The fee seems to be listed these days as £1 million, but I distinctly remember it being more like £1.5 mill at the time.
Jerkan signed for Forest in 1996, and I remember being excited by the prospect of signing an international defender. So much more intriguing than Steve Chettle anyway. 1996-1997 would be a tough season, for a start we were relegated. Jerkan was never really able to break up the partnership of Chettle and Colin Cooper to break in the side.
Perhaps this was his abject lack of pace. He couldn’t deal with anyone running at him. This was a guy who if Wikipedia is to believed was once voted Defender of the year in La Liga several years previous. His style was more aeriel than The likes of Cooper and Chettle.
Jerkan made his debut at the start of the season in the win at Coventry when Campbell disproved all the previous seasons doubts by netting a hat trick. This would be the only win the league of Frank Clark season. The run of 5 games at the start of the season would jerkins longest run in the team. Save for odd appearances for suspended or injured team mates and a short burst when we experimented with a back 3 and wing backs (very much in vogue at the time)
The one lasting memory I will have of Jerkan was getting Ian Wright sent off with a wonderful piece of play acting. Wright petulantly flicked out at Jerkan, and Jerkan went down as if his ankle had been ripped out by a tiger. This game will also be more famous for the return of Clough and the first of Stuart Pearce’s games as caretaker manager. Many attribute the win to the fervour of the crowd supporting Psycho as the manager but the helping hand of Jerkans foreign histrionics was as bigger reason.
Jerkan would spend the next season on loan at Rapid Vienna, the arrival of Jon Olav Hjelde forcing him further down the pecking order, even further when Christian Edwards also signed. The next season was never played before he left to go Charleroi in Belgium, and later retiring