Retro Football: Porto Replace Vitor Baia By Signing Ivica Kralj, Yugoslavian No.1 And The Worst Goalkeeper In The World, 1998 (With Video Evidence)

Chris Wright

5th, February 2018


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After the Premier League coughed up a weekend of these foreign goalkeepers doing these naff foreign punches (c/o Mark Lawrenson), Pies thought we’d pay humble tribute to one of the true innovators of the limp-wristed lamp.

The year was 1998. Yet to find an adequate replacement for talismanic ‘keeper Vitor Baia, who had been sold to Barcelona a couple of years previous, Porto settled on Ivica Kralj, first-choice for Partizan Belgrade and the Yugoslavian national team.

Kralj arrived at Porto having just played in all four of his country’s matches at France ’98, the 24-year-old having already amassed 24 caps’-worth of international experience.

He went straight into the first team and quickly set about proving his worth with a string of utterly hapless performances, peppered with ricket after clanger and ricket…

After just one error-strewn season at the Estadio das Antas, Porto (who did, admittedly, still win the league) decided that Kralj probably wasn’t going to blossom into the impregnable custodian they thought he would and promptly allowed him to return to Serbia, joining Radnicki Kragujevac on loan.

The Portuguse club then turned to a familiar face in their ongoing quest to replace Vitor Baia by bringing Vitor Baia back in from Barca the very next summer. Who better?

As for Kralj, he went on to sign for PSV that very same month, where he duly went on to play just five times in the space of three years before returning to Partizan.

Now aged 44, he is currently the club chairman of Serbian SuperLiga side FK Macva Sabac.

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  1. Johnl says:

    Nice article! Just a small correction, our stadium back then was Estádio das Antas. Dragão was only built 5 years after. Cheers

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