Mate Bilic of Sporting Gijon had a long journey back to Spain’s the Primera Division. The twenty-eight year old Croatian had last played in the top tier during his 2001/2002 season for Real Zaragoza. Six years removed from that experience, Bilic is now being named the LLTO 2009 Best New La Liga Player. As you can see the forward is excited about the result and the shiny trophy he will receive in the mail.
And Bilic has every reason to be pleased with the way things worked out this season. First off, Sporting Gijon was able to survive relegation as a first year club in the Primera Division. Secondly, Bilic was the club’s go-to-guy, scoring 12 goals over the course of the year while dishing for another 3 assists. He and forward David Barral would create a solid duo scoring 22 combined goals on the year of the club’s 47 .
Bilic’s best match came early in the season against an unlikely opponent. In their second match as a top level club, Sporting Gijon had to face last year’s fifth place squad Sevilla F.C. Most critics considered the match over before it began, but Sporting Gijon gave the elite club a run for their money. Bilic scored three goals in what is considered a “sour hat trick” because Sporting Gijon lost the match 3-4. It was an impressive showing against one of the best defenses in La Liga and all year the club would not give up another hat trick to any other player.
Mate Bilic was simply an excellent addition to Sporting Gijon’s squad two years ago and deserves the trophy for Best New Player in La Liga.