?uker in 2008
|President of the Croatian Football Federation|
5 July 2012
|Born||1 January 1968|
Osijek, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
Davor ?uker (Croatian pronunciation: [dâ?or :ker] ; 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, ?uker 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 goal scorer. 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 ?uker's move to Spanish club Sevilla in 1991.
In La Liga, ?uker 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 ?uker'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 ?uker 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. ?uker is also Croatia's all-time top scorer with 45 goals altogether. He is generally regarded as the greatest Croatian striker of all time.
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.
?uker 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. ?uker 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.
?uker 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, ?uker 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, ?uker 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. ?uker 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.
?uker 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. ?uker 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 Mijatovi?, he formed a dangerous trio that struck fear in the opposing defenses to assure eventual acclaim for the club.
?uker was again successful with Real Madrid in the following season, which won the 1997-98 UEFA Champions League. In the Primera, ?uker 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.
?uker 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, ?uker missed his penalty as Arsenal lost to Turkish side Galatasaray on penalties.
?uker also scored once in the League Cup against Middlesbrough and twice in the UEFA Champions League against AIK (once at home and once away). He scored 8 league goals (including 3 braces) in 22 Premiership appearances with Arsenal.
At West Ham United, ?uker 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 and Sunderland. He also scored once in the League Cup against Blackburn Rovers. His career in England ended with the end of that season, where he joined German side 1860 Munich for the 2001-02 season.
At 1860 Munich, ?uker 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, ?uker 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. He also made five appearances in the DFB-Pokal, scoring three goals.
?uker'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 Prosine?ki, Zvonimir Boban and Igor ?timac.
?uker 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. ?uker 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 the final against Soviet Union he scored one goal in the first leg. In all he tallied a sum of seven goals throughout the Championships winning the Golden Boot. Yugoslavia went on to finish as runners up with ?uker also being named as the Golden Player of the Tournament.
On 22 December 1990, ?uker made his debut for the newly established Croatia national team in a friendly against Romania. In 1991, he won his only two caps for Yugoslavia at senior level: on 27 February 1991 against Turkey, and on 16 May 1991 against the Faroe Islands. In the latter match, ?uker scored his first senior international goal. This feat was noted given Croatia was not registered with FIFA nor UEFA at that point.
?uker's second and the first official match for Croatia came in a friendly against Mexico in 1992 where he scored a brace in a 3-0 victory. He then led Croatia to their first major international tournament, UEFA Euro 1996, with a then-record 12 goals in 10 matches during the qualifying stages. During the Euro 1996 final stages in England, he scored three goals in four matches, including two in the 3-0 group stage win over defending champions Denmark. It was in this match he set up the final score with an unforgettable looping shot over Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, still remembered as one of the greatest goals in UEFA European Championship history. ?uker's feats during the tournament saw him named to the Team of the Tournament.
?uker then went on to see Croatia qualify for their first FIFA World Cup after scoring five goals in nine matches during the qualifying stages for the 1998 finals in France. In the tournament proper, he scored six goals in seven matches, scoring in every match Croatia scored. These included goals in 1-0 victories over Japan in the group stage and Romania in the round of 16. In the quarter-finals against Germany, ?uker was fouled by Christian Wörns who received a straight red card. ?uker scored the final goal in a 3-0 victory. He also brought the team to the doorstep of the final by scoring the opener in the semi-final against France. Lilian Thuram took the match back for the hosts with his only two international goals to give France a 2-1 victory and a place in the final.
In the third-place play-off, ?uker scored the match-winner in a 2-1 victory against the Netherlands, leading Croatia to a sensational third-place finish in their first World Cup appearance since becoming an independent nation. ?uker won the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer, as well as the Silver Ball as the World Cup's second-best player, behind Ronaldo of Brazil.
After the 1998 World Cup, ?uker featured for Croatia in their unfruitful run to qualify for the Euro 2000. ?uker was though noted in endeavouring to keep Croatia's hopes alive when he scored a 94th-minute winner against the Republic of Ireland at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. The win ensured Croatia would have a strong chance of still qualifying for the tournament. The Croatians would miss out on such in their final qualifier, a 2-2 draw at home to Yugoslavia. ?uker did score a late disallowed goal which, if stood, would have assured Croatia's qualification. He finished with four goals in seven matches during the campaign.
?uker was also part of the Croatian team at the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan. However, he only played 63 minutes in the tournament, in a 1-0 defeat to Mexico in Croatia's opening match. After Croatia's elimination, ?uker announced his retirement from international football.
?uker won a total of 71 international caps during his senior career, 2 for Yugoslavia and 69 for Croatia. The forward scored 46 international goals in total. With 45 goals, he is Croatia's all-time leading goal-scorer. His 12 goals during the campaign for Euro 1996 was a record that stood for over 10 years--Northern Ireland's David Healy broke his record in 2007 after scoring 13 goals during Euro 2008 qualifying.
?uker established his own school of football entitled the Davor ?uker Soccer Academy, with training camps located in Zagreb and several other Croatian cities. The concept for this academy originated near the end of his playing days.
In 2011, ?uker was fined for stealing antique coins left over by another passenger on an airplane. Instead of reporting his findings and handing the coins in, he decided to give them to his girlfriend, who tried to sell them.
In 2015, Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) accused ?uker of preventing freedom of information and for physically blocking journalists from reporting and doing their work.
|Dinamo Zagreb||1989-90||First League||28||12||3||4||-||-||2||1||33||17|
|Real Madrid||1996-97||La Liga||38||24||5||5||-||-||-||-||43||29|
|West Ham United||2000-01||Premier League||11||2||0||0||2||1||-||-||13||3|
Mr. Davor ?uker was awarded the Order of Prince Trpimir with Ribbon and Star...