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Davor Šuker
Davor Šuker
Personal information
Full name Davor Šuker
Date of birth 1 January 1968 (1968-01-01) (age 52)
Place of birth    Osijek, Flag of SFR Yugoslavia 001 SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth clubs
1984 Croatia Osijek
Senior clubs
Years Club App (Gls)
1984–1989
1989–1991
1991–1996
1996–1999
1999–2000
2000–2001
2001–2003
Total
Croatia Osijek
Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
Flag of Spain Sevilla
Flag of Spain Real Madrid
England Arsenal
England West Ham United
Germany 1860 Munich
091 0(40)
060 0(34)
153 0(76)
086 0(38)
022 00(8)
011 00(2)
025 00(5)
448 (203)   
National team
1987
1988
1990-1991
1990–2002
Flag of SFR Yugoslavia 001 Yugoslavia U-20
Flag of SFR Yugoslavia 001 Yugoslavia Olympic
Flag of SFR Yugoslavia 001 Yugoslavia
Croatia Croatia
0000(6)
0000(0)
0000(1)
069 0(45)

Davor Šuker ( born 1 January 1968) is a Croatian former professional footballer and the current president of the Croatian Football Federation, a position he has held since July 2012. During his playing career, Šuker featured as a striker. He began his footballing career in his hometown for local first division team NK Osijek as a 16-year-old. During his final season with the club, he became the league's top goalscorer. He made the move to sign for Dinamo Zagreb in 1989. The Croatian War of Independence halted a promising season for the 21-year-old, eventually resulting in Šuker's move to Spanish club Sevilla in 1991.

In La Liga, Šuker was highly regarded, showing consistent form with Sevilla and being consecutively amongst the division's top goal scorers. He signed with Real Madrid five years later, and was again amongst the league's top scorers. While at the Santiago Bernabéu, he helped Madrid claim the Liga and UEFA Champions League titles as well. A move to Arsenal saw him distinguish himself throughout their run to the UEFA Cup final of 2000. He then had a spell with West Ham United, then closed his career playing for German side 1860 Munich. The crowning moment of Šuker's career was the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, where he won the Golden Boot by scoring six goals in seven matches. He also won the Silver Ball as the second-best player of tournament, behind Ronaldo. His goal-scoring feats proved instrumental in the Croatians winning the bronze medal in their debut World Cup. Croatia did not lose a single match which Šuker scored in prior to their semi-final loss to eventual champions France.

Named as Croatia's Golden Player for the UEFA 2003 Jubilee anniversary, he came third in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1998. He is also on the FIFA 100 list of great footballers, as the only Croatian on such. Šuker is also Croatia's all-time top scorer with 45 goals altogether. He is generally regarded as the greatest Croatian striker of all time.[3]

Under his leadership as the president of Croatian Football Federation, Croatia reached runner-up at 2018 FIFA World Cup, the highest achievement Croatia ever made since their independence in 1992 and twenty years since their third-place finish.

Club career

Early career

Šuker began playing football in his home town of Osijek with the club NK Osijek in 1984. In 1989, he moved to Dinamo Zagreb, where during the following two seasons he scored 34 goals in 60 Yugoslav First League matches. Šuker made such an impression that he received his first call-up to the Yugoslavia national team. His play also attracted several clubs, including Spanish club Sevilla, which he joined in 1991.

Sevilla

Šuker made his Primera División debut for Sevilla on 17 November 1991, coming off the substitutes' bench as a last-minute substitute in Sevilla's 1–1 away draw at Espanyol. In the following match, at home against Real Sociedad, he made his first start and went on to score two goals in a 2–2 draw. He finished his first season at the club with 6 goals in 22 appearances. During Sevilla's first match of the next season away at Albacete, Šuker scored his first Primera hat-trick, which led a 4–3 victory. He improved his tally from the prior season with 13 goals in 33 matches.

In the 1993–94 season, Šuker was the second-highest scorer in the league with 24 goals to Barcelona's Romário. He made a total of 34 Primera appearances that season and also scored five braces and one hat-trick. Šuker played with Argentine legend Diego Maradona at the club within the 1992–93 season. During this and the next season with Sevilla, he scored a total of 33 goals in 64 appearances in the Spanish Primera.

Real Madrid

Šuker went on to move to Real Madrid. This transfer came prior to the start of the 1996–97 season. With Los Galacticos, his goalscoring potency continued as he scored 24 goals in 38 appearances. Šuker ended up as the third-best scorer within the league, behind Barcelona's Ronaldo and Real Betis's Alfonso. During that season, he scored three hat-tricks in the Primera seeing Madrid to lift the league title. Along with Raúl and Predrag Mijatović, he formed a dangerous trio that struck fear in the opposing defenses to assure eventual acclaim for the club.[4]

Šuker was again successful with Real Madrid in the following season, which won the 1997–98 UEFA Champions League. In the Primera, Šuker scored 10 goals in 29 appearances. Within the 1998–99 season, his presence at Real Madrid was reduced despite the fact he performed well at that summer's World Cup. This was seen as he made only 19 Primera appearances, scoring 4 goals as a whole. By that season's end, he opted to leave the club.His decision to leave also marked the close of his eight-season-long spell in the Spanish Primera, where he scored 114 goals in 239 total appearances.[5]

Arsenal

Šuker joined FA Premier League club Arsenal for the 1999–2000 season. He made his league debut on 22 August 1999 in a 2–1 defeat to Manchester United at Highbury, coming on as a substitute for the final 15 minutes. He played another two matches as a substitute before making his first start in Arsenal's 3–1 home victory over Aston Villa, where he scored a brace, his first two goals in the Premier League. With Arsenal, he played in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final as an extra-time substitute, Šuker missed his penalty as Arsenal lost to Turkish side Galatasaray on penalties.[6]

Šuker also scored once in the League Cup against Middlesbrough[7] and twice in the UEFA Champions League against AIK (once at home[8] and once away).[9] He scored 8 league goals (including 3 braces) in 22 Premiership appearances with Arsenal.[6]

West Ham United

At West Ham United, Šuker never managed to find his place in the first team for a long period and only made 11 Premiership appearances for the club throughout the season, scoring twice against Manchester United[10] and Sunderland.[11] He also scored once in the League Cup against Blackburn Rovers.[12] His career in England ended with the end of that season, where he joined German side 1860 Munich for the 2001–02 season.

1860 Munich

At 1860 Munich, Šuker made his Bundesliga debut, playing all 90 minutes in the club's 1–0 home victory over Energie Cottbus on 1 December 2001. His first goal for 1860 came in their first match after the winter break, a headed effort which completed a 3–0 home victory over 1. FC Köln. His highlight of the season came during the final league match in a 4–2 away victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he scored a brace. He finished his first season in the Bundesliga with 4 goals in 14 appearances.

In the 2002–03 season, Šuker scored in 1860 Munich's 3–1 home victory over Arminia Bielefeld on 2 November 2002. While playing with 1860 in the Bundesliga, he scored 5 goals in 25 appearances.[13] He also made five appearances in the DFB-Pokal, scoring three goals.

International career

Šuker's eye for goals was duly illustrated in his feats at youth level. He finished as the second highest scorer as he netted six goals at the 1987 World Youth Championships in Chile. The Yugoslavians also set a Championship record with 22 goals scored altogether. Yugoslavia went on to win the title with a generation of future talents. Some of these players went on to represent Croatia such as Robert Prosinečki, Zvonimir Boban and Igor Štimac.

Šuker again played for Yugoslavia in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic games. Those appearances came in group stage matches against Brazil and Nigeria. In two years time, he featured in the UEFA Under-21 Championship. He scored four goals in five matches as Yugoslavia won their group stage. Šuker also struck the only goal in the second leg of his side's 3–0 quarter-final victory on aggregate against Bulgaria. He scored once again against Italy. In all he tallied a sum of six goals throughout the Championships winning the Golden Boot. Yugoslavia went on to finish as runners up with Šuker also being named as the Golden Player of the Tournament.

Honours

Clubs

Real Madrid
Arsenal

National team

Yugoslavia
Croatia

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External links

Croatia football federation
Croatia Croatia
Croatia football federation
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