The Portsmouth striker who never was calls time on career with Europe’s elite

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He served AC Milan, Roma and Atletico Madrid after his Fratton move fell through and Blackburn Rovers landed the striker, who this week hung up his boots.

He was the transfer saga which resulted in a fruitless outcome as Pompey combusted.

Nikola Kalinic was the striker lined up to arrive at Fratton Park in July 2009 and spearhead the Blues’ seventh Premier League campaign.

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Instead, the man who this week called time on his playing days, ended up at Blackburn and eventually a fine career at the top of the game, while the Blues went into meltdown.

Fifteen years ago, however, Peter Crouch was departing for Spurs for £10m and one of Europe’s bright, young things was set to fill his boots in the shape of the man known as The Condor.

Kalinic had even spent a week on trial at Pompey's Eastleigh training base, with a £5.5m fee agreed with his club Hajduk Split.

A deal never materialised though, with ‘financial reasons’ detailed as the key factor in the move breaking down.

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We all know what happened next with Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s takeover completed the following month with money, it was later confirmed, he’d stolen from his wife as he was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018.

His ill-fated six-week ownership came ahead of the mysterious Ali al-Faraj and then Balram Chainrai seizing control, and Pompey becoming the first Premier League team to fall into administration.

Meanwhile, Kalinic dodged a bullet and rocked up at Ewood Park in a £6m agreement on a four-year deal.

The 36-year-old went on to bag 15 goals in two campaigns at the top level, before a move to Ukrainian outfit Dnipro - where the goals flowed.

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Kalinic went on to serve some of biggest names in the game as he joined Fiorentina in Italy before a switch to AC Milan. A stint with Atletico Madrid in La Liga and Roma followed, before the 42-cap international joined Hellas Verona.

Two further years where it all started in Split preceded his retirement announcement this week, at the club where he is now to take up a role as their sporting director.

Kalinic acknowledged he will have doubters, but believes he has the nous to make a success of his new position.

He said of his role with Hajduk Split: ‘Thanks to everyone at the club who made it possible for me to be the sports director of such a big club. 

'My football career is over, and new challenges are ahead of me. Maybe someone thinks I’m inexperienced, but for this position, my football acquaintances and knowledge are important.’

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