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Davor Šuker
Davor Šuker 300x450px.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth January 1, 1968 (1968-01-01) (age 42)
Place of birth Osijek, SR Croatia
Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11+12 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1984 Osijek
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1989 Osijek 091 0(40)
1989–1991 Dinamo Zagreb 060 0(34)
1991–1996 Sevilla 153 0(76)
1996–1999 Real Madrid 086 0(38)
1999–2000 Arsenal 022 00(8)
2000–2001 West Ham United 011 00(2)
2001–2003 1860 Munich 023 00(5)
Total 448 (199)
National team
1991 Yugoslavia 002 00(1)
1990–2002 Croatia 069 0(45)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Davor Šuker, (born 1 January, 1968 in Osijek) is a former Croatian footballer. Best known for his goal scoring ability, which has earned him a spot in FIFA top 100 greatest players. He played as a striker for a number of European clubs as well as the Croatian national team, where he is the all-time top goal scorer with 45 goals.

Šuker began his footballing career in his hometown, playing for the local first division team Osijek as a 16-year-old. During his final season there, he became the league's top goal scorer. He signed for a bigger club, Dinamo Zagreb in 1989. The war in Croatia halted a promising season for the 21-year-old, eventually resulting in Šuker's move to Sevilla in 1991.

In La Liga Šuker was highly-regarded, showing consistent form with Seville and being amongst the top goal scorers for consecutive seasons. He signed with Real Madrid 5 years later, and was again amongst the league's top scorers, which helped Madrid claim the La Liga title, the Supercup trophy and win the UEFA Champions League during his tenure there.

His move to Arsenal turned out to be a disappointment, as he managed to only rarely find his goal scoring form, but distinguished himself in the Gunners' UEFA Cup final berth in 2000. He concluded his career with shorter spells at West Ham United and in Germany where he played for 1860 Munich.

The crowning moment of Šuker's career was the 1998 World Cup in France, where he became the top goal scorer and won the Golden Boot by scoring 6 goals in 7 matches and also won Silver Ball 1998 at France as second best player of tournament (behind Ronaldo). His goal-scoring prowess proved instrumental as the Croatians surprisingly took third place, upsetting a strong Netherlands side, in their debut World Cup as an independent country. Croatia did not lose a single match in which Šuker scored prior to the semifinal loss to eventual champions France.

Named as Croatia's Golden Player for the UEFA 2003 Jubilee anniversary, he is also on the FIFA 100 list of the top 125 greatest footballers and is the only Croatian on the list. He was the first Croatian to be named in the Team of the Tournament of an international tournament.[1]

Contents

Club career

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Early years

Šuker began playing football in his home town of Osijek with the club Osijek, where he played for the first team between 1984 and 1989. He then moved to Dinamo Zagreb, where he played in the following two seasons and scored 34 goals in 60 Yugoslav First League matches, impressing so much that he earned his first call-up to the Yugoslav national team as well as the attention of foreign clubs. In 1991, he moved to Spanish side Sevilla.

Career in Spain

Šuker made his Primera División debut for Sevilla on November 17, 1991, coming off the bench as a last-minute substitute in their 1-1 away draw at Espanyol. In the following match, at home against Real Sociedad, he made his first appearance from the beginning and went on to score a brace to secure his club a 2-2 draw. He finished his first Sevilla season with 6 goals in 22 appearances, but the following season he improved his record to 13 goals in 33 matches. Especially successful for him was Sevilla's first match of the season, away at Albacete Balompié, where scored his first Primera hat-trick and helped his club to drive home a 4-3 victory.

In the 1993-94 season, he turned into one of the best players in the Spanish Primera and became the second-best goal scorer of the league with 24 goals, six less than Barcelona's Romário. He made a total of 34 Primera appearances that season and also netted five braces and one hat-trick. After this, he played another two seasons for Sevilla, scoring 33 goals in 64 appearances in the Spanish Primera. Šuker also played with Diego Maradona at Sevilla that time (1992-1993).

He went on to move to Real Madrid for the 1996-97 season, in which he repeated the success of scoring 24 goals, only he made 38 appearances that season and was third-best goal scorer of the league, behind Barcelona's Ronaldo and Real Betis's Alfonso Pérez. During the same 1996-97 season, he managed to score three hat-tricks in the Primera and led Real Madrid to winning the league title. Along with Montenegrin Predrag Mijatović, who signed for the club that same season, he formed the fatal tandem, one that has struck fear in the opposing defenses and brought all too long waited success for Real. The realization of his dream of capturing major trophies continued the following season, when he won the Champions League with Real Madrid, although he only played a couple of stoppage-time minutes in the Final against Juventus. In the Primera, he scored 10 goals in 29 appearances that season. In the 1998-99 season, his role at Real Madrid nevertheless became largely diminished, despite the fact that he performed well at the 1998 World Cup that preceded the season, and he only scored 4 goals in 19 Primera appearances. By the end of the season, he decided to leave the club after three seasons of playing for them.

His decision to leave Real Madrid also marked the end of his eight-season-long career in the Spanish Primera, which ended with a total of 114 goals in 239 appearances.

Moving to England

For the 1999-2000 season, Šuker decided to make a move to the English Premiership and signed with Arsenal. He made his league debut on August 22 1999 in Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at Highbury, coming on as a substitute for the final 15 minutes. He subsequently played another two matches as a substitute before finally making his first start in Arsenal's 3-1 home victory over Aston Villa, where he scored his first two goals in the Premiership. He scored 8 league goals (and one in the League Cup), including three braces, in 22 Premiership appearances for Arsenal before moving to West Ham United for the 2000-01 season. With Arsenal, he also played in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final as an extra-time substitute. Arsenal lost the Final to Turkish side Galatasaray on penalties, with Šuker missing his.[2]

At West Ham, he 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[3] and Sunderland.[4] He also scored once in the League Cup against Blackburn Rovers.[5] His career in England ended with the end of that season as he decided to make a move to German side 1860 Munich for the 2001-02 season.

Last two seasons in Germany

At 1860 Munich, Šuker did not manage to make his Bundesliga début until the 15th matchday of the season on December 1, 2001, when he played all 90 minutes in the club's 1-0 home victory over Energie Cottbus. His first goal for the club came in their first match after winter break, a 3-0 home victory over Köln, where he scored the third goal with a header. His highlight of the season came on the final matchday in a 4-2 away victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he netted his only brace in the Bundesliga. He finished his first Bundesliga season with a modest record of 4 goals in 14 appearances.

In his last season in 2002-03, he once again only occasionally played for the club and only scored once in 11 Bundesliga appearances throughout the season. He scored his last goal on November 2, 2002 in 1860 Munich's 3-1 home victory over Arminia Bielefeld and the last match of his professional career was on March 16, 2003 in his club's 1-0 home defeat to VfB Stuttgart. In two seasons of playing Bundesliga football, he only scored five goals in 23 appearances[6]. In this two seasons with 1860 Munich, he also made a total of five German Cup appearances in which he managed to score three goals.

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Yugoslavia League Cup League Cup Continental Total
1985-86 Osijek First League 10 3
1986-87 26 9
1987-88 29 10
1988-89 26 18
1989-90 Dinamo Zagreb First League 28 12
1990-91 32 22
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1991-92 Sevilla La Liga 22 6
1992-93 33 13
1993-94 34 23
1994-95 32 17
1995-96 32 16
1996-97 Real Madrid La Liga 38 24
1997-98 29 10
1998-99 19 4
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1999-00 Arsenal Premier League 22 8
2000-01 West Ham United Premier League 11 2
Germany League DFB-Pokal Premiere Ligapokal Europe Total
2001-02 1860 München Bundesliga 14 1
2002-03 11 1
Total Yugoslavia 151 74
Spain 239 113
England 33 10
Germany 25 2
Career Total 448 199

International career

Already in his youth, Šuker made 25 international appearances and scored 15 goals for various Yugoslav youth national teams. He was the second best scorer (scored six goals) on 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile. Yugoslavia won the title with a generation of future talents, some of whom went on the represent Croatian following the break-up of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia also set a new FIFA World Youth Championship scoring record (which still stands today): they banged in an average of 2.44 goals per game, finishing with 22 goals for and 9 against and the best attack was Yugoslavian which scored 17 goals on tournament with Šuker domination (6 goals, second scorer of tournament and won an adidas golden shoe award). He played for Yugoslavia in 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic games in group D matches against Brazil,Australia and Nigeria. Then in 1990 he played U-21 European Championship and Yugoslavia finished second and he was voted for Golden player of the tournament. He scored 4 goals in five games as Yugoslavia won Group 5 and also struck the only goal in Sofia as his side completed a 3-0 aggregate quarter-final victory against Bulgaria. He scored one more against Italy making it overall 6 goals in tournament.In 1990, he was named to the Yugoslav national team's 22-man squad for the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy, but did not receive any playing time during the tournament.

On December 22, 1990, he made his debut for then newly founded Croatian national team in their friendly match against Romania. In 1991, he nevertheless also won his only two caps for Yugoslavia (on 27/02/91 against Turkey, and 16/05/91 against Faroe Islands), since Croatia was registered with neither FIFA nor UEFA at the time, and scored his first international goal with the team (against Faroe Islands). In his second match for Croatia, a friendly against Mexico in 1992, he scored a brace in Croatia's 3-0 victory. He then led Croatia to their first major international tournament, the 1996 European Championship, with a then record of 12 goals in 10 matches during the qualifying tournament.

At the final tournament in England, he scored three goals in four matches, including two in the 3-0 group-stage win over defending champions Denmark, where he set the final score with an unforgettable looping shot over Denmark's keeper Peter Schmeichel.[watch video] It is still remembered as one of the greatest goals in EURO history, which also earned him a place in the EURO 96 Team of the Tournament.

He then went on to help Croatia to qualify for their first World Cup as he scored five goals in nine appearances during the qualifying for the 1998 finals in France. He went on to claim the Golden Boot at the tournament, scoring six goals in seven matches and leading the Croatian team to their sensational third-place finish in the country's very first World Cup appearance since becoming independent. He netted one goal in every match where Croatia scored, also scoring the winning goals in 1-0 victories over Japan in the group stage and Romania in the round of 16 as well as in the 2-1 success against the Netherlands in the third-place play-off. He also brought the team to the doorstep of the Final by scoring the opening goal of the semifinal against France before Lilian Thuram switched the lead with his only two international goals and gave France a 2-1 victory for a place in the Final.

After the 1998 World Cup, Šuker continued to play for Croatia in their unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2000 European Championship as Croatia just missed out on qualification. Davor was however remembered as he kept Croatia's hopes of qualification alive when he scored a 94th minute winner against Ireland at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. The win ensured Croatia would have a strong chance of qualifying, but would unfortunately miss out due to their final qualifying game, a 2-2 draw at home to his previous teammates of Yugoslavia. He did manage to score a late goal which was later disallowed, and would have sent Croatia through had it been counted. He finished his qualifying campaign that year with four goals in seven matches. He was also part of the Croatian team at the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea, but only played 63 minutes in their unsuccessful opening match against Mexico, which ended in a 1-0 defeat for Croatia. In the qualifying for the tournament, he only scored once in six matches. After the 2002 World Cup, he retired from international football but went on to be an icon for many children around the world, but mostly in Croatia where he is still seen as a national hero.

Šuker won a total of 71 international caps during his professional career, 2 for Yugoslavia and 69 for Croatia, and scored a total of 46 international goals. With 69 international caps, he is currently the sixth most-capped player in the Croatian national team, but his goalscoring record of 45 goals for the team will probably remain unbeaten for decades as it has been since his retirement, since no other player has scored even 20 goals for Croatia (as of May 2009).

His 12 goals during the qualifying campaign for Euro 96 was a record until beaten in 2007 by Northern Ireland's David Healy during qualifying for the 2008 European Championships as the Northern Irish star managed 13 goals.

International goals

With Yugoslavia:

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
01. 16 May, 1991 Stadion Crvena Zvezda, Belgrade, Yugoslavia  Faroe Islands
7 – 0
7 – 0
Euro 1992 Qualifying

With Croatia:

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
01. 22 October, 1992 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Mexico
1 – 0
3 – 0
Friendly
02. 22 October, 1992 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Mexico
3 – 0
3 – 0
Friendly
03. 25 June, 1993 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Ukraine
1 – 0
3 – 1
Friendly
04. 23 March, 1994 Estadio Luís Casanova, Valencia, Spain  Spain
0 – 2
0 – 2
Friendly
05. 4 September, 1994 Kadrioru Staadion, Tallinn, Estonia  Estonia
0 – 1
0 – 2
Euro 1996 Qualifying
06. 4 September, 1994 Kadrioru Staadion, Tallinn, Estonia  Estonia
0 – 2
0 – 2
Euro 1996 Qualifying
07. 16 November, 1994 Stadio La Favorita, Palermo, Italy  Italy
0 – 1
1 – 2
Euro 1996 Qualifying
08. 16 November, 1994 Stadio La Favorita, Palermo, Italy  Italy
0 – 2
1 – 2
Euro 1996 Qualifying
09. 25 March, 1995 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Ukraine
2 – 0
4 – 0
Euro 1996 Qualifying
10. 25 March, 1995 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Ukraine
4 – 0
4 – 0
Euro 1996 Qualifying
11. 26 April, 1995 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Slovenia
2 – 0
2 – 0
Euro 1996 Qualifying
12. 3 September, 1995 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Estonia
2 – 1
7 – 1
Euro 1996 Qualifying
13. 3 September, 1995 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Estonia
5 – 1
7 – 1
Euro 1996 Qualifying
14. 3 September, 1995 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Estonia
7 – 1
7 – 1
Euro 1996 Qualifying
15. 8 October, 1995 Poljud, Split, Croatia  Italy
1 – 1
1 – 1
Euro 1996 Qualifying
16. 15 November, 1995 Stadion Bežigrad, Ljubljana, Slovenia  Slovenia
1 – 1
1 – 2
Euro 1996 Qualifying
17. 10 April, 1996 Gradski vrt, Osijek, Croatia  Hungary
2 – 0
4 – 1
Friendly
18. 2 June, 1996 Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland  Republic of Ireland
0 – 1
2 – 2
Friendly
19. 16 June, 1996 Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, England  Denmark
1 – 0
3 – 0
Euro 1996
20. 16 June, 1996 Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, England  Denmark
3 – 0
3 – 0
Euro 1996
21. 23 June, 1996 Old Trafford, Manchester, England  Germany
1 – 1
1 – 2
Euro 1996
22. 10 November, 1996 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Greece
1 – 1
1 – 1
World Cup 1998 Qualifying
23. 29 March, 1997 Poljud, Split, Croatia  Denmark
1 – 0
1 – 1
World Cup 1998 Qualifying
24. 30 April, 1997 Kaftanzoglio Stadium, Thessaloniki, Greece  Greece
0 – 1
0 – 1
World Cup 1998 Qualifying
25. 10 September, 1997 Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark  Denmark
3 – 1
3 – 1
World Cup 1998 Qualifying
26. 11 October, 1997 Stadion Bežigrad, Ljubljana, Slovenia  Slovenia
0 – 1
1 – 3
World Cup 1998 Qualifying
27. 3 June, 1998 Kantrida, Rijeka, Croatia  Iran
2 – 0
2 – 0
Friendly
28. 6 June, 1998 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Australia
1 – 0
7 – 0
Friendly
29. 6 June, 1998 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Australia
2 – 0
7 – 0
Friendly
30. 6 June, 1998 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Australia
5 – 0
7 – 0
Friendly
31. 14 June, 1998 Stade Félix Bollaert, Lens, France  Jamaica
1 – 3
1 – 3
World Cup 1998
32. 20 June, 1998 Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes, France  Japan
0 – 1
0 – 1
World Cup 1998
33. 30 June, 1998 Parc Lescure, Bordeaux, France  Romania
0 – 1
0 – 1
World Cup 1998
34. 4 July, 1998 Stade Gerland, Lyon, France  Germany
0 – 3
0 – 3
World Cup 1998
35. 8 July, 1998 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  France
0 – 1
2 – 1
World Cup 1998
36. 11 July, 1998 Parc des Princes, Paris, France  Netherlands
1 – 2
1 – 2
World Cup 1998
37. 10 October, 1998 Ta' Qali Stadium, Ta' Qali, Malta  Malta
1 – 4
1 – 4
Euro 2000 Qualifying
38. 14 October, 1998 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Macedonia
1 – 1
3 – 2
Euro 2000 Qualifying
39. 10 March, 1999 Spiros Louis Stadium, Athens, Greece  Greece
2 – 2
3 – 2
Friendly
40. 5 May, 1999 Estadio Olímpico, Seville, Spain  Spain
0 – 1
3 – 1
Friendly
41. 5 June, 1999 Skopje City Stadium, Skopje, Macedonia  Macedonia
0 – 1
1 – 1
Euro 2000 Qualifying
42. 4 September, 1999 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Republic of Ireland
1 – 0
1 – 0
Euro 2000 Qualifying
43. 2 June, 2001 Stadion Varteks, Varaždin, Croatia  San Marino
3 – 0
4 – 0
World Cup 2002 Qualifying
44. 15 August, 2001 Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland  Republic of Ireland
2 – 2
2 – 2
Friendly
45. 17 April, 2002 Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia  Bosnia and Herzegovina
2 – 0
2 – 0
Friendly

Post-career honours and activities

Towards the end of his playing career, Šuker opened his own football school, the Davor Šuker Soccer Academy, with training camps in the Croatian capital city of Zagreb as well as a couple of other cities. To date, he still puts time and effort into the youth academy which trains many young athletes with career aspirations. He also boasts a collection of rare special edition Harley Davidson motorcycles. In 2007 he established a micro brewery and a conjuncting pub selling only his own brand of beer, simply called "Davor".

References

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Bulgaria Hristo Stoichkov
Russia Oleg Salenko
FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe
1998
Succeeded by
Brazil Ronaldo
Preceded by
Italy Roberto Baggio
FIFA World Cup Silver Ball
1998
Succeeded by
Brazil Ronaldo
Preceded by
Spain Raúl
Real Madrid top scorer
24 goals

1996-97
Succeeded by
Spain Fernando Morientes
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Croatia Željko Mavrović
Croatian Sportsman of the Year
1998
Succeeded by
Croatia Gordan Kožulj


Simple English

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