Often Partisan

Where are they now? Part II

A few weeks back I started a new series of features looking at some of the players who used to play for us and where they have got to now. Last time, I looked at some of the kids who moved on without really making it; this time I’m going to look at some of our foreign legion that didn’t quite match up to snuff.

Jovan Kirovski

To my mind the only American (and definitely the only Macedonian-American) to play for Birmingham City, Jovan signed for us on a Bosman free transfer in August 2002 from Crystal Palace having taken an age to sort out a work permit. Now you’ll have to indulge me here, as I have very strong connections with the US, and as such it was exciting for me back then to have Blues sign an American international. I’d harboured thoughts of us maybe picking up his now team mate Landon Donovan (I had the US 2002 World Cup shirt with Donovan’s number on the back), and I thought Kirovski could be the start maybe of an American cabal at Blues.

Of course, it never happened; Kirovski only ever got two goals for us (against Fulham and Everton), and in 2004 he went back to California to play for LA Galaxy. Kirovski is 35 now, and he’s played 171 MLS games since his return to America, scoring 30 goals. He’s with Galaxy now, having also had spells in between his two stints at the Home Depot Centre with the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes. It’s rather sad; Kirovski was seen as a bright youngster when he was with Manchester United as a kid but it never really happened for him; despite having 62 US caps he’s never played in a World Cup.

Walter Gerardo Pandiani

I remember el rifle’s debut for Blues well; he’d only just signed for us on deadline day, with fax machine problems meaning the signing actually took place just after midnight on the Tuesday. Wednesday night came about, and twelve minutes in our new Uruguayan hitman headed home a cross from fellow debutant, the be-tagged Jermaine Pennant. Pandiani was a strange fellow really; he liked driving big trucks instead of blingy Bentleys and he tended to only score against the bigger sides. Whilst we did shell out to make his loan permanent, Pandiani never really hit the target much and it wasn’t that surprising that he went back to Spain to Espanyol.

Walter is 35 now, and he is out of contract after spending four years at Osasuna. He’s done alright in Spain, and it would appear his quirkiness has remained; in February he told reporters that Cristiano Ronaldo had “a screw loose”. His strike rate has never been that great, with 35 goals in 144 la liga games, and it’s no surprise I guess that he didn’t add to his four caps for his country.

Luciano Figueroa

When people talk about our current board and it’s supposed interference with the manager’s dealings in the transfer market, they often forget that the previous incumbents were pretty bad for doing it. Figueroa was a David Sullivan signing; a kid who had been featured in World Soccer Magazine for scoring five in a game for Rosario Central and a supposed new light in Argentine football. The whole signing was a mess to begin with, with Spanish side Osasuna stating that they’d already signed him when we stepped in; Karren Brady took them on and won but the die had been cast for Lucho to have a miserable stay in Birmingham.

I have to admit, I had that season’s away shirt with “Lucho” and “35” on the back (coincidentally using the last “u” so that the fella behind me couldn’t get “Dugarry” on the back of his), and I hoped for big things from the kid. Steve Bruce had other ideas however; Lucho wasn’t his signing so he barely featured for the club, making one sub appearance at home to Portsmouth and one league cup appearance away to Blackpool. It was a shame really; I saw Lucho play a few times for the reserves and whilst he was a strip of a lad who couldn’t do much outside the box, he was absolutely deadly within it. He just had that happy knack of finding the onion bag time and time again.

After half a season with us Blues annulled his contract, and he went off to Mexico to play for Cruz Azul. Lucho actually had some success in his career in Mexico, and got a big move to Villareal where he scored their first ever Champions League goal, and got some international recognition. Alas, injuries were to play their part and Lucho never really fulfilled his potential, and is now back where he started, playing for Rosario Central. Lucho does hold one record though; he’s the only player who’s played for Blues to have ever won an Olympic Gold medal (for football anyway). A gold medal, fifteen international caps and six international goals for Argentina and the thrill of scoring goals on a cold Wednesday night at Damson Lane – what more could you wish for in a career?


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