FC Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olić is an unlikely hero. But on Tuesday night he was the man of the match with his hattrick against Olympique Lyonnais in the UEFA Champions League semifinal return-leg.
It was a clinical performance by the German giants and not usual suspect Dutchman Arjen Robben was the hero of the night, but Ivica Olić, who after the match dedicated his three goals to his three children.
The 30 year old Croatian is now on seven Champions League goals, so he has scored as many as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, but one less then Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona. And with Bayern in the final he still has the chance to score more goals.
But Olić isn't a football genius like Lionel Messi or doesn't do fancy stuff like Cristiano Ronaldo, he's rather a hard working player for which he is loved and adored by the fans.
Olić is one of the those players who gives everything in every match and is totally exhausted by the end of the game, if he is able to play the full 90 minutes. Often he is substituted when he can't run any more.
His stamina is his big plus, he's also got pace, can take on defenders and can be played as a central striker or on both wings. A player every coach loves to have in their team.
When Olić joined Bayern Munich last summer on a free transfer from Bundesliga rivals Hamburger SV, he was seen to be the no. 4 striker behind Italian international Luca Toni and German duo of Miroslav Klose and 30 Million Euro signing Mario Gomez.
But injury and form problems to the others gave the Croatian a chance to play in the starting eleven and he used it to the utmost. He scored goals early in the season when Bayern were having problems and became an instant crowd favourite.
Injury also kept him out for a while, but once back he has had a dream run for the Bavarian giants like the rest of the team. And now they are in the UEFA Champions league final. Something unthinkable in November last year when coach Louis van Gaal was nearly sacked.
How it all started
Ivica Olić isn't the typical footballer. The Croatian was born in the village of Davor near Nova Gradiška, Croatia (then Yugoslavia).
He is married to Natalie, a German of Serbian descent, and has three children with her. He had met his wife while playing in Berlin and said afterwards that she was the best thing to have happened to him while in Berlin.
Olić started his career at local club Posavac Davor before moving on to NK Marsonia.
He was signed by German Bundesliga side Hertha BSC Berlin in 1998, but only played three games for the first team before moving back to Marsonia in 2000. The following couple of seasons he played for NK Zagreb and Dinamo Zagreb before making a big move to CSKA Moscow.
In Moscow his career finally took off with Olić improving every season. The highlight was the UEFA Cup triumph in 2005 besides winning the Russian Premier League, Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup.
In January 2007 Olić returned to Germany to sign for Hamburger SV. And he had a successful spell with the North German side before getting the offer to sign for Bayern Munich. And the rest is history.
For the last eight years Olić has been part of the Croatian national team and has played for his country in over 70 matches.
The private Ivica
And Olić isn't a player who is in search of the limelight. He rather stays away from it and keeps his private life private.
Also he hasn't forgotten where his roots are. He has helped the community back home in Croatia especially his former home town football club.
Ivica Olić is a real role model...