|Full name||Elvir Balji?|
|Date of birth||8 July 1974|
|Place of birth||Sarajevo, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
Left Winger |
|2000-2001||-> Fenerbahçe (loan)||27||(5)|
|2001-2002||-> Rayo Vallecano (loan)||10||(1)|
|1996-2005||Bosnia and Herzegovina||38||(14)|
|2010-2014||Bosnia and Herzegovina (assistant)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
As a player, Balji?'s biggest success was winning the UEFA Champions League with Spanish giant Real Madrid in the 1999-2000 season. Apart from the UEFA Champions League success, he also won the Turkish Süper Lig with Fenerbahçe in the 2000-01 season.
After ending his playing career, he became an assistant manager of Safet Su?i? at the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team, with whom he qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was then, the manager of back then TFF First League club Karabükspor in 2015. After Karabükspor, Balji? was also an assistant of Su?i? at Alanyaspor in 2017 and at Akhisarspor in 2018.
On 1 October 2019, he was named the new manager of Bosnian Premier League club Tuzla City, officially taking over that position a day later. He left the club on 9 March 2020, terminating his contract.
Born in Sarajevo, SFR Yugoslavia, Balji? began his career with hometown club ?eljezni?ar, but in 1993, during the Bosnian War, he signed for FK Sarajevo. During his time with Sarajevo, he played eleven games, and scored eight goals.
Later, he moved to Turkey where he played for Bursaspor. Balji? was the best player at the club for several seasons, which made him an interesting target for the best Turkish clubs. During his spell in Bursaspor, he also took Turkish citizenship in 1996. However, Balji? chose to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina instead of Turkey.
In the summer of 1998, Balji? signed a contract with Turkish giants Fenerbahçe for a EUR9.3 million transfer fee. He spent a season at the ?ükrü Saraco?lu Stadium scoring 18 goals in 30 appearances as the club finished the season in third place.
Balji?'s stellar performances at Fenerbahçe made the 25-year-old a target for various European clubs. Still, his EUR26 million transfer to Real Madrid under club president Lorenzo Sanz during summer 1999 caused a major surprise. The signing was initiated by Real Madrid's head coach John Toshack who knew Balji? well from Istanbul as the Welshman coached Be?ikta? while the Bosnian starred for Fenerbahçe. For more than a decade, the transfer fee paid by Real to Fenerbahçe for Balji? stood as the biggest sum of money paid for a player from ex-Yugoslavia, until Edin D?eko's January 2011 move from VfL Wolfsburg to Manchester City for £27 million (EUR32 million).
Just before the start of the 1999-2000 season in Spanish top flight, Balji? suffered rapture of both pairs of cruciate ligaments in his left knee, anterior (ACL) and posterior (PCL), after which he underwent surgery and was put off the field for prolonged rehabilitation. Subsequent loss of form caused Balji?'s Real stint to turn sour pretty much immediately. Throughout the 1999-00 season, he made only 11 league appearances (8 of them as substitute), scoring just 1 goal. He never managed to secure a first team place, and the November 1999 sacking of Toshack followed by the arrival of new head coach Vicente del Bosque, marginalized Balji? even further. At the season's end, del Bosque included Balji? in the 18-man squad he took to Paris for the 2000 Champions League Final, but did not give him a single minute of action as Real beat compatriots Valencia CF.
During the 2000 summer transfer window, Balji? was sent back to Fenerbahçe on a loan deal.
Balji? spent the entire 2000-01 season back at his old stomping grounds with Fenerbahçe. He simultaneously managed to recover some of his old form with 5 goals in 27 league appearances as Fenerbahçe won the Turkish Süper Lig.
In the following 2001-02 season, he got a chance to showcase his abilities closer to the club that still held his rights as he got loaned to Madrid's Rayo Vallecano in La Liga. Balji? actually insisted on joining Rayo due to its proximity to Real as he had his eye on getting a fresh opportunity with the big club in the future. For their part, Real Madrid obliged and managed to hammer out a loan deal with Rayo. Also, in Rayo he joined countrymen and friends Elvir Boli? and Emir Granov, which Balji? cited as another reason he wanted to be at Rayo. However, the move did not do much to improve Balji?'s standing at the Bernabéu as more injuries, poor form, and even disciplinary issues followed with only 1 league goal from 10 appearances.
During the 2002 summer transfer window, Balji?'s Real contract was terminated and he again transferred back to Turkey - this time to Galatasaray. Due to his substantial price tag and the subsequent high-profile failure at Madrid, Balji?'s acquisition by Real features consistently and prominently on various "worst-ever signing" lists.
Balji? turned just 28 years of age when he began his Galatasaray stint, but it soon became clear his best days were far behind him. His form was average at best and his overall interest in football seemed to be decreasing by the day. He said that he would retire on several occasions, but every time he would come back.
In December 2004, he left Galatasaray and in January 2005, signed with Konyaspor. After only half a season at Konyaspor, Balji? left the club and took a break from football at only the age of 31.
Balji? came back to the sport in January 2006, when he signed for Turkish side MKE Ankaragücü. In the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, he played for ?stanbulspor, before deciding to finish his career in July 2008 at the age of 34.
Balji?'s international career was prolific. As part of the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team since its inception, he scored 14 goals in 38 caps. He will be remembered as the first, and for now only, player who scored four goals in a single official match for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in an away game of the Group 9, during the UEFA Euro 2000 qualifications, between Estonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 9 October, just a couple of weeks after he signed a contract with Real Madrid. The final result was 1-4.
Almost two years after finishing his playing career, in February 2010, Bosnia and Herzegovina's national team manager Safet Su?i? revealed that Balji? would be one of his assistants. While as an assistant, Balji? was part of the historic achievement of the national team, which was qualification to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Balji? left the national team in 2014 with Su?i?'s departure.
On 2 October 2015, Balji? became the new manager of Turkish TFF First League club Karabükspor. Less than three months later, on 21 December 2015, he resigned from the position of Karabükspor manager after a 3-0 loss against Adanaspor, which was the club's third loss in a row in all competitions and second in a row in the league.
During 2017 and 2018, Balji? had a roll as assistant manager of Safet Su?i? again, and during that period, was the assistant at Süper Lig club Konyaspor in 2017 and one more Süper Lig club Akhisarspor in 2018.
On 1 October 2019, it was announced that Balji? became the new manager of Bosnian Premier League club Tuzla City. The next day, on 2 October, Balji? officially took over the role of manager of Tuzla City, signing a three-year contract with the club. In his first game as Tuzla City manager, the club beat Zvijezda 09 at home 3-0 in a league match on 5 October 2019. He suffered his first loss with Tuzla on 19 October 2019, after the club lost to Radnik Bijeljina at home 0-3 in another league match.
In his first Tuzla derby, Balji?'s team drew against city rivals Sloboda Tuzla 1-1 on 30 November 2019. On 9 March 2020, Balji? decided to terminate his contract with Tuzla City because of poor results, which culminated with an away 1-0 league loss against ?eljezni?ar the day earlier.
Scores and results table. Bosnia and Herzegovina's goal tally first:
|1.||12 August 1998||Ko?evo Stadium, Sarajevo||Faroe Islands||1-0||1-0||UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying|
|2.||14 October 1998||?algiris Stadium, Vilnius||Lithuania||2-2||2-4||UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying|
|3.||9 October 1999||Kadriorg Stadium, Tallinn||Estonia||1-1||4-1||UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying|
|4.||9 October 1999||Kadriorg Stadium, Tallinn||Estonia||2-1||4-1||UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying|
|5.||9 October 1999||Kadriorg Stadium, Tallinn||Estonia||3-1||4-1||UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying|
|6.||9 October 1999||Kadriorg Stadium, Tallinn||Estonia||4-1||4-1||UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying|
|7.||2 September 2000||Ko?evo Stadium, Sarajevo||Spain||1-1||1-2||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|8.||15 August 2001||Ko?evo Stadium, Sarajevo||Malta||1-0||2-0||Friendly|
|9.||15 August 2001||Ko?evo Stadium, Sarajevo||Malta||2-0||2-0||Friendly|
|10.||7 October 2001||Ko?evo Stadium, Sarajevo||Liechtenstein||2-0||5-0||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|11.||7 October 2001||Ko?evo Stadium, Sarajevo||Liechtenstein||4-0||5-0||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|12.||11 October 2002||Ko?evo Stadium, Sarajevo||Germany||1-0||1-1||Friendly|
|13.||12 February 2003||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||Wales||1-0||2-2||Friendly|
|14.||2 April 2003||Parken Stadium, Copenhagen||Denmark||2-0||2-0||UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying|
|Karabükspor||2 October 2015||21 December 2015||11||4||3||4||12||14||-2||36.36|
|Tuzla City||2 October 2019||9 March 2020||12||4||2||6||10||19||-9||33.33|