Mladen Petric’ time in SW6 may have only lasted for one season but he left a good impression on the Fulham faithful with some very well taken goals and of course will always be remembered for that astonishing free-kick for Hamburg. Daniel Smith spoke to Mladen to get the Croatian’s perspective on his time with the club.
DS – Who were your footballing heroes growing up as a kid and did any of them influence the way you played your style of football?
MP – My idols as a kid were Marco van Basten and Davor Suker. But the person who influenced my style of playing the most was my older brother. He was the one who first taught me how to play.
DS – How did you get your first opportunity in football?
MP – I got my first opportunity when I was 16 years old. It was in Switzerland at FC Baden, I came on if I remember right 15 minutes before the end. Great experience.
DS – How did your move to Fulham materialise?
MP – Martin Jol was the reason I signed for Fulham. I was about to go to Spain but Martin was calling me like 100 times that summer and was trying to convince me to come to Fulham. I had a good time with him in Hamburg and finally I said ok lets do this.
DS – You did very well on your debut scoring two goals, you must have felt very good that evening as we were also top of the league?
MP – Oh yes… I felt great after that first game. After a great pre season with 5 goals (I think it was 5), scoring 2 in the first game was great. I felt like I had definitely arrived.
DS – How did you feel seeing Berbatov arrive shortly after you’d signed? Did you feel harshly treated having limited opportunities after his arrival?
MP – When I saw Berba arrive I was a bit surprised but still thought, “ok, this could be a great duo: Berbatov and Petric.”
After some weeks I was definitely disappointed because he left me out. Especially after all the phone calls during the summer where he was trying to convince me to come. Telling me that I’m his player, he needs me and I will play…
DS – How did you find London life and the Premier League?
MP – Life in London was amazing, I loved it. My family and I felt very good. The Premier League was also a great experience after 5 years in the Bundesliga.
DS – Who were your closest friends at Fulham?
MP – My closest friend was Sascha Riether because we knew each other from Germany. But I had a very good relationship with almost all of the players.
DS – You left Fulham when your contract expired to join West Ham. Were there any differences between the two clubs?
MP – There was no big differences between the two clubs. I would just say that Fulham was much more like a family.
DS – I’ve got to ask you about the Europa League semi-final if you don’t mind. Firstly, have you ever scored a free-kick like the one you scored against us before? It was a great strike!
MP – Thank you. Yes I have scored 2 or 3 free kicks like that during my time at FC Basel.
DS – Did the players who were still at Fulham when you joined ever talk about the semi-final?
MP – Oh we spoke many times about that game… Especially with Dickson Etuhu who still couldn‘t believe how the ball found the target. Haha!
DS – What was the highlight of your international career?
MP – The highlight was definitely the goal at Wembley against England. People still talk about that goal when they see me in Croatia.
DS – You picked up a few injuries during your time at the club, that must have been frustrating?
MP – Injuries were part of my career. I have never had a big injury but always some small things which kept me out for some weeks.
DS – What are you up to now you’ve retired?
MP – I‘m working as a football expert for Champions League games for Teleclub (Swiss pay tv channel).
DS – Finally Mladen, pie or pasty, which filling?
MP – I have never tried it hahahah so lets say pie.