Check out our latest installment of A-Z as we feature the heroic and amazing story of Bosnian international Mo Konjic...
Across the season, we worked our way through the alphabet for this year's Coventry City matchday programme PUSB, finding a Sky Blue perspective of each letter in the alphabet.
It made for a popular feature so we thought we'd bring it to the web too! So without further ado, here is K, Bosnian defender (in more ways than one) Mo Konjic, club legend Mick Kearns, Robbie Keane and Kings Lynn all under the microscope in our latest installment of the Coventry City A-Z!
The legend of ‘Big Mo’
There are two sides to the Konjic story, the football and the war. We all know about the football side so we’ll briefly go over it…
Muhamed Konjic was a defender who played for Coventry City during the years of 1999 to 2004 and made 138 appearances for the club, scoring four goals. Strong and combative, he was a fans favourite at the club before moving to Derby County in 2004.
Now, the other side of the story.
Konjic started his career at his hometown club Sloboda Tuzla but he was only 21-years old when the club had to pull out of the Yugoslav First League due to the outbreak of the Bosnian War near the end of the 1991/92 season.
Soon, he wasn’t defending crosses, but his country as he was drafted into the army to fight in a war where atrocities and sieges were commonplace. Konjic said in an interview with The Mirror: “In the first six months alone, there were 300,000 casualties and it’s difficult to speak about it. The Serbian and Croatian armies came to my home village and flattened it. I had no choice because we were being attacked and it was a case of fight or die.”
Konjic was offered the chance to continue his playing career by Croatian side NK Belisce a third of the way into the 1992/93 season. The transfer fee was rather modest for a player of Konjic’s talents, food parcels for the people of Tuzla.
He wasn’t through it yet though as driving through Bosnia during war-time was long and treacherous with Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian forces patrolling the roads of the former Yugoslav state. The vehicle he was in fell into a ditch on a bomb-ravaged road and Konjic suffered two broken arms.
Despite the injury, he made his debut two weeks later with no-one aware that both his arms were broken; the never-say-die attitude which endeared him to City fans.
He never looked back as his football career flourished, sealing moves to FC Zurich and French Champions Monaco. Konjic’s proudest moment came in November 1995 when he captained a newly-independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country he fought to create, in their first FIFA international.
The non-league club played a significant role in the club’s history. In the 1961/62 season, City were struggling towards the bottom end of the third division when Kings Lynn, then a Southern League side, arrived at Highfield Round for a FA Cup Second Round tie.
Billy Frith’s side suffered a calamitous 2-1 defeat as Kings Lynn scored all three goals. The game was watched by 12,079 City fans and one Jimmy Hill, in disguise in the stand. Hill was appointed manager four days later and the rest is history.
Record holder, hall-of-fame, legend.
Kearns was a great servant for the club during the club’s most important years and holds the unique record to be the only player to have made over 350 appearances for Coventry City as his sole league club.
Along with George Curtis and Brian Hill, he also holds another record of having played in five different divisions of the league with one club.
Nuneaton-born Kearns was spotted playing for Stockingford Villa and joined the club as an amateur in 1955.
His first game was for the 'A' team against Birch Coppice. He combined his football with work as an apprentice motor mechanic at Massey Ferguson and soon impressed the City management with his skill and poise.
A great reader of the game, Mick became a regular in the City first-team during the 1958/59 season and barely missed a game over the next nine years.
Mick was one of a few players that Jimmy Hill did not jettison soon after his arrival in 1961. In fact, Hill’s Sky Blue revolution depended on the Farmer-Curtis-Kearns half-back line, gaining a fearful reputation throughout the divisions. Kearns was one of the centre-points as City climbed out of the lower reaches of Division Three and won two promotions in four years.
Kearns, who was converted to a full-back by Hill in his later playing years, won a Third Division medal in 1964 and a Second Division medal in 1967.
Soon after City reached the promised land, the top of English football for the first time in our history, Kearns’ recurring knee problems continued to trouble him. Unfortunately, a man who had amassed 385 appearances and 16 goals over his 13-year career, barely took part in the top flight success as he was forced to retire in 1968. He returned to the club in the 1980s as reserve team manager under John Sillett.
The Republic of Ireland international record goal-scorer moved to Coventry City in 1999 after City paid £6 million for the Wolves forward, a then-record for a teenager. He scored two goals on his debut against Derby County at Highfield Road.
‘Keano’ only spent one season with the Sky Blues as his impressive tally of 12 Premier League goals in his first season in the top flight captured the attention of Inter Milan who brought him for £13 million. Strangely City never won an away league game with Keane in the side.
Keane went on to play for Liverpool, Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur, Celtic and West Ham. He currently plays for LA Galaxy.