A Look Back In Amber: Robert Koren

Robert Koren (151 appearances – 28 goals, 21 assists)

William Young / @williamyoung95

When Robert Koren arrived on a free transfer in August 2010, it was a little bit of a surprise. He was released by then newly promoted West Brom after having a pretty good season, and was captain of the Slovenia national side that had appeared at the World Cup in South Africa just a month earlier, which saw him scoring a late winner against Algeria.

Nigel Pearson had managed to persuade Koren to join us over many other suitors, as he began to rebuild the team following our drop from the PL.

Koren didn’t have the greatest of introductions to the club – his first appearance came in a dismal 4-0 paggering at Millwall. But Koren didn’t waste time to start shining in amber and black, as three games later he scored his first goal for the Tigers in a 2-0 victory over Derby.

It didn’t take long for it to become apparent that Koren was a rather decent striker of the ball from range, something that, along with his technical ability, would endear him to the City faithful and become one of the most loved players in the squad during his tenure.

In his first season at the club, Koren scored 7 goals as the club finished in a comfortable midtable position of 11th, a season of stability and rebuilding after the Allams took control in the autumn.

In the 2011/12 season, Koren became City’s no.10 and only continued to grow in a Tigers shirt, scoring various memorable goals, such as the 94th minute comeback winner against Watford, but probably most fondly remembered will be his 88th minute strike to secure victory in a tense game against Leicester City, and the returning manager who had brought him to Hull, Nigel Pearson.

Koren finished the season on 10 goals, his most prolific in amber and black, which saw City finish in 8th, a campaign which saw us spend a long period in the playoffs before slipping away. Koren himself though gained many plaudits, winning the Hull City Player of the Season award in the process.

Due to injury to then-captain Jack Hobbs, Koren took up the captaincy for the majority of the 2012/13 season, a campaign which saw Hull City return to the Premier League through automatic promotion, following a nerve-destroying race with Watford. Koren finished the season as City’s top scorer with 9 goals, and again scored many memorable goals, such as the third in a great victory at Elland Road against Leeds United, a 25yd volley against Cardiff, and what was arguably his most important goal for the club; a late headed clincher at Ipswich Town in April which helped claw us towards promotion under Steve Bruce.

After gaining promotion to the Premier League, Koren found his appearances in the squad becoming less and less frequent, mainly due to the acquisitions of players like Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore. He still found time to get on the scoresheet though, as he scored a brace in the 6-0 demolition of Fulham that December, and scored the winning goal in City’s FA Cup Fifth Round replay victory over Brighton.

That Brighton goal turned out to be Koren’s last in a City shirt; he made his final start for the club at Old Trafford a couple of months later, and would be an unused substitute in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal.

After leaving East Yorkshire, Koren moved to the other side of the world and joined Australian side Melbourne City, where he would make 24 appearances and score 3 goals – all of which coming in the same game, his first start, against Newcastle Jets. After a relatively quiet time at the club, he left in 2016.

In 2017 Koren returned to the club where his career started, his hometown side NK Dravograd, where he made 7 appearances for the side before eventually retiring from playing, becoming a coach for the junior team. He has since moved to another of his former clubs, NK Celje, where he is currently their assistant coach.

In all, Koren’s contribution to the Tigers during a period of near-death followed by a great rise of the club after relegation should be remembered fondly for a long time, and he’ll remain long in the memory of those who watched him smash in one of his trademark 30 yard rockets.