Three decades ago, Salih Porca went to Iceland where he won three football championship titles, played in a European football competition against an English Premier League team and became a known name in this north Atlantic country.
“I am a peasant child from Prnjavor.” Porca tells N1 cheerfully at the beginning of the interview.
“I was fifteen years old when I started playing football in my hometown Prnjavor. Immediately started playing for the first team, so I was supposed to go to Borac from Banja Luka, but that didn't happen. Then the former goalkeeper of the Yugoslav national team, Marijan Jantoljak, came to pick me up and took me to Rijeka. Like every child, I had the desire to be a professional. I spent a year there and I didn't have much patience, I wanted to play. I returned home, then went to Olimpija from Ljubljana, followed by an offer for Iceland.”
At the end of 1989, Porca signed a contract for Icelandic Selfoss, and on February 4, 1990, he arrived in Iceland. For 33 years, his life has been football on an island country in the North Atlantic.
Porca's rich football experience was summed up by playing for the biggest Icelandic clubs: Selfoss, Fylkir, Valur, KR Reykjavík and Breidablik.
“On average, we played 20 to 25 games per season, when you add everything up there are probably over 200 games. I played midfielder. There were also many goals scored, I don't have the exact data, but I can provide you with it,” he said
The Bosnian had a successful playing career, as he won the Icelandic Cup three times. He brought two cups to KR Reykjavík with his teammates in 1994 and 1995, and in 1992 he did the same job with Valur. The then 29-year-old Porca played two matches in the Cup Winners’ Cup for KR Reykjavík against Everton.
Asked to provide some insider information about the BiH national team’s first opponents in the EURO 2024 qualifiers, the Icelandic national team, Porca had some good pointers regarding the state of their team.
“The president of the Icelandic Football Association is a woman. Her name is Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir. At one time, she played soccer in the nineties. She says that the two teams played many friendly matches and they have to look back on good results. Coach Arnar Vidarsson is young and promising, but he hasn't won a single ‘significant’ game. He beat the Faroe Islands, Liechtenstein and Venezuela. There were real scandals here. Old players made some private problems. Everything is ‘torn down’. Young players are not as good as the old ones. There is no experience there, either. They play in small clubs. To tell you the truth, they’re hoping, that's the kind of people they are. They want big things and big results, but what they’re willing to give is questionable. Captain Aron Gunnarsson and Rúrik Gíslason are not playing, they are booked. Birkir Bjarnason, a member of Adana from Turkey, was also not invited, as he does not play enough games in Turkey. Albert Gudmundsson from Italian Genoa received a call, but he did not respond, he is in an argument with the coach.”
Porca then spoke about the most important thing in his life – his family. He met his Icelandic wife Valgerður Valdimarsdóttir upon arrival at the first club Selfoss. Their love gave them two daughters and a son. Valdis Harpa, Katrín Vala and Valdimar.
“Ufff… My son's blood is Bosnian. Valdimar and I will support Bosnia and Herzegovina, and my wife and daughter will support Iceland. Therefore, the ratio of fans in the home is 2:2. The third daughter is not here, she is studying medicine. If the score is not 3:0 for BiH, then it will not be good. BiH will be second in the group, Slovakia third, I tell the Icelanders there is no chance you will be second.”
Today Salih Porca works for the Icelandic State Radio and Television (RUV), and he used to be a driver for DHL, after his football career.
“I see what others don't. I am in charge of the organization. Sometimes I also work during the matches of the Icelandic football team. They mostly call Porca to solve problems. One day I'm the boss and the next day I'm cleaning, that's the job. I always found it interesting and nothing was ever difficult for me.”