It’s a feat that is unlikely to ever be repeated yet the name of Andrej Kramaric is still unknown in football. The 22 year old Croatian striker made the records book in October when he hit eight, yes eight goals in one match. The goals came in the Croatian Cup game between top flight side Rijeka and third division side Zmaj Blato as Rijeka ran out 11-0 victors. Kramaric, unsurprisingly won the man of the match award as he put in a performance that every striker would be proud of.
Rijeka and Kramaric started strongly surging into a three nil lead within the first 21 minutes, with Kramaric hitting a brace. He completed his hat trick with 13 minutes left in the half sending the away team in with a 4-0 advantage. But nobody would have expected that Kramaric would top his first half performance but he did and in style. Within six minutes of the restart, he had added another goal, with his fifth of the game coming ten minutes later. He added a seventh with 10 minutes left and struck a sweet low drive on the 85th minute to bring his tally to eight. Colleagues watched in awe as the striker tore the Zmaj defense apart and could have added a ninth but instead laid up the shot for teammate Mehmed Alispahic to score.
Kramaric has been in good form for HNK Rijeka this season after making the transition from boyhood club Dinamo Zagreb. After joining Zagreb as a boy aged 6, he stayed with the club for 15 years working his way up through the ranks, scoring a club record 450 goals along the way. He eventually made his full senior debut in 2009 against NK Zagreb at the tender age of 17. Full of promise and vigour, Kramaric looked to be the next player to emerge from the youth team and command a first team place but a fall out with head coach Zdravko Mamic, he was sold to Rijeka. It was somewhat of a coup for the team who finished third in the league and is competing this season for domestic and European honours (in the Europa League). Kramaric, who has represented Croatia at every level from Under 14’s to Under 21’s, has benefited from a run in the starting lineup, hitting fifteen goals in twelve games this season in all competitions. If he maintains this form until the end of the season, he may earn a place on Niko Kovac’s senior team for the World Cup.
Recently BOTN covered how Miroslav Klose hit five goals for Lazio in a Serie A match joining an elite band of players in doing so. But Kramaric’s achievement outshines them all. It’s hard enough to hit five but to almost hit a triple hat trick is unheard of. Kramaric will be disappointed to miss out on nine but will be pleased to be in the Croatian record books all the same. Step up and take a bow Kramaric, for your name is likely to live in football folklore for a long time to come.