Fulham have completed their first major signing of the summer bringing in free agent Mladen Petric on a one-year deal.
The Croatian forward will always be written into Fulham folklore for that majestic free-kick at the Hammersmith End that threatened to ruin the Europa League run back in 2010, before those two brilliant goals from Simon Davies and Zoltan Gera completed a compelling comeback. Now 31, Petric was released at the end of his four-year contract by the German side, who were managed by Martin Jol when the former Grasshoppers Zurich attacker moved from Borussia Dortmund in 2008.
As well as striking a mean dead-ball, Petric is versatile and can play either as an out-and-out striker, as he did with surprising success when he joined Dortmund from FC Basel in 2007, in the ‘hole’ behind a forward or as a narrow member of a front three. He did, of course, score the goal that sent Steve McClaren scrambling for his brolly at Wembley with a 25-yard strike that meant England missed out on Euro 2008. Petric was left out of Slaven Bilic’s squad for this year’s European championships with the departing national coach admitting it was a tough decision to omit such ‘a quality player who has done a lot for our side’.
Petric scored seven Bundesliga goals in his 29 appearances during his final season with Hamburg – three of them were penalties – but he struggled for form and fitness midway through the campaign and he admitted the chance to play in England was a real factor in his decision to join Fulham, although it might be stretching it to say he has fond memories of that unforgettable night at the Cottage:
I like the Premier League and it has always been one of my wishes to come here.
It was very nice to play at Craven Cottage with a fantastic crowd and I have enjoyed a good relationship with every member of the club I have met since. I’m very happy to be part of what is happening at Fulham. The club is doing very well and that was why I decided to come here.
I know the manager well and I know that he is always looking to strengthen his attacking options – and I hope that we can do even better next season.