Davor Šuker

Davor Šuker
Šuker in 2008
Personal information
Full name Davor Šuker
Date of birth (1968-01-01) 1 January 1968
Place of birth Osijek, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1984 Osijek
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1989 Osijek 91 (40)
1989–1991 Dinamo Zagreb 60 (34)
1991–1996 Sevilla 153 (76)
1996–1999 Real Madrid 86 (38)
1999–2000 Arsenal 22 (8)
2000–2001 West Ham United 11 (2)
2001–2003 1860 Munich 25 (5)
Total 448 (203)
National team
1987 Yugoslavia U20 6 (6)
1988 Yugoslavia Olympic 2 (0)
1990–1991 Yugoslavia 2 (1)
1992–2002 Croatia 69 (45)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Davor Šuker (Croatian pronunciation: [dâʋor ʃǔːker] ( listen);[1] born 1 January 1968) is a retired Croatian footballer and the current president of the Croatian Football Federation, a position he has held since July 2012.[2] Wherein his playing career, Šuker featured within the role of a striker. Šuker began his footballing career in his hometown, playing for the 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 war in Croatia halted a promising season for the 21-year-old, eventually resulting in Šuker's move to Spanish side 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. Whilst at the Bernabeu he helped Madrid claim the La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles as well. A move to Arsenal saw him distinguish himself throughout the Gunners' run to the UEFA Cup final of 2000. He then had a spell with West Ham United only to have his career come to a close whilst 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]

Club career

Early career

Šuker began playing football in his home town of Osijek with the club NK Osijek in 1984. He then in 1989 moved to Dinamo Zagreb, where he in the following two seasons he scored 34 goals in 60 Yugoslav First League matches. Šuker made such an impression that he thereafter got his first call up to Yugoslavia's national team. He also caught the eye of several clubs with his feats upon the field of play such as Spanish side Sevilla of whom he linked up with in 1991.


Šuker made his Primera División debut for Sevilla on 17 November 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 start and went on to score a brace to secure 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 of which fostered a 4–3 victory. He altogether improved his tally from the season prior with 13 goals in 33 matches.

In the 1993–94 season, he 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 netted 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 the Galacticos his 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 Raul and Predrag Mijatović he formed a dangerous duo that struck fear in the opposing defenses to assure eventual acclaim for the club.[4]

He was again successful with Real in the following season, of whom won the 1998 UEFA Champions League title. 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 that 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 decided to leave the club due to such.[4]

His decision to leave Real Madrid also marked the close of his eight-season-long spell in the Spanish Primera, with a total of 114 goals in 239 appearances in all.[5]


Šuker decided to make a move to the FA Premier League for the 1999–2000 season to sign with Arsenal. He made his league debut on 22 August 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 sub before finally 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 Premiership. With Arsenal, he played in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final as an extra-time substitute. Arsenal lost the Final to Turkish side Galatasaray on penalties.[6]

Šuker also scored once in the League Cup against Middlesbrough,[7] and twice in the Champions League against AIK Solna (once at home[8] and once away).[9] He scored eight league goals in total, which included three braces, in 22 Premiership appearances whilst at Arsenal.[6]

West Ham United

At West Ham, 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 as he decided to make a move to German side 1860 Munich for the 2001–02 season.

1860 Munich

At 1860 Munich, Šuker made his Bundesliga debut where he played 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 game in a 4–2 away victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he netted a brace. He finished his first season in the Bundesliga with a total of 4 goals scored from 14 appearances.

In the 2002–03 season, he scored in 1860 Munich's 3–1 home victory over Arminia Bielefeld on 2 November 2002. While playing in the Bundesliga with 1860, he scored a sum of 5 goals in 25 appearances.[5] In his time with 1860 Munich he was also capped on five occasions in the DFB-Pokal, scoring three goals as a whole.

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 playera went on to represent Croatia such as Robert Prosinečki, Zvonimir Boban and Igor Štimac.[3]

He again played for Yugoslavia in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic games. Those appearances came in Group matches against Brazil and Nigeria.[13] In two years time he featured in the UEFA Under-21 Championship. He scored four goals in five games 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.

Senior team

In 1990, Šuker was named to the Yugoslavia national team's 22-man squad for the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy. As so he didn't attain any playing time during the cup.[14]

On 22 December 1990, he made his debut for the newly established Croatian national team in a friendly against Romania. In 1991, he won his only two caps for Yugoslavia at senior level. These came on 27 February 1991 against Turkey, and on 16 May 1991 against the Faroe Islands. It was in the latter game that Šuker scored his first goal at senior level. This feat was noted given that Croatia wasn't registered with FIFA nor UEFA at that point in time.

His second 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, being UEFA Euro 1996, with a then record 12 goals in 10 matches during the qualifying stages.

During the Euros 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 game where he set up the final score with an unforgettable looping shot over Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. His strike is still remembered as one of the greatest goals in the history of the Euros.[15] Šuker's feats during the Euros saw him named within the Team of the Tournament.[16]

Šuker then went on to see Croatia qualify for their first World Cup as he scored five goals in nine appearances during the qualifying stages for the 1998 finals in France. He scored six goals in seven matches, netting one goal in every match where Croatia scored. These included goals of which came in 1–0 victories over Japan in the group stage and Romania in the round of 16. In the quarter-finals against Germany, Šuker was fouled by Christian Wörns who received a straight red card, and Šuker 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 back the game for the hosts with his only two international goals to give France a 2–1 victory for a place in the Final. Šuker scored the winner in a 2–1 victory against the Netherlands in the third-place play-off, leading the Croatians to a sensational third-place finish in their first World Cup appearance since becoming an independent nation. Šuker won the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer, and the Silver Ball as the World Cup's second best player to Ronaldo of Brazil.[17][3]

After the 1998 World Cup, Šuker featured for Croatia in their unfruitful run to qualify for the Euro 2000. Šuker 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, which was a 2–2 draw at home to Yugoslavia. Šuker 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.

Šuker was also part of the Croatian team at the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea. With such being so he only played 63 minutes in their opening match against Mexico, which ended in a 1–0 defeat. After his Cup came to an end, he brought an end to his playing days. In retirement Šuker has gone on to become an iconic sporting figure particularly in Croatia as well as worldwide.

Šuker won a total of 71 international caps during his senior career with 2 coming for Yugoslavia and 69 for Croatia, and scored a total of 46 international goals. With 69 international caps, he currently has sixth most appearances for the Croatian national team. Šuker currently holds Croatia's scoring record that's stood for the last 15 years, which is a sum of 45 goals all in all.

His 12 goals during the campaign for Euro 1996 was a record that stood for over 10 years. His tally was beaten in 2007 by Northern Ireland's David Healy who netted 13 goals altogether during qualifying for Euro 2008.[18]

Post career

Šuker established his own school of football entitled the Davor Šuker 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.[6]


In 1996, in the company of two well-known criminals he posed for a picture at the grave of Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelić.[19][20][21][22][23]

In 2011, he 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 then tried to sell them.[24][25][26]

In 2015, Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) accused the president of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), Davor Šuker, of preventing freedom of information and for physically blocking journalists from reporting and doing their work.[27]

Career statistics



Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
Yugoslavia League Cup League Cup Continental Total
1985–86OsijekFirst League103------103
1989–90Dinamo ZagrebFirst League281234--213317
Spain League Copa del Rey Supercopa de España Europe Total
1991–92SevillaLa Liga22644----2610
1996–97Real MadridLa Liga382455----4329
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1999–2000ArsenalPremier League22830111323911
2000–01West Ham United1120021--133
Germany League DFB-Pokal Other Europe Total
2001–021860 MunichBundesliga14432----176
Total Croatia 1517434--4115879
Spain 2391142617--189283140
England 331030321325214
Germany 25553----308
Career total 4482033420323816523241



Yugoslavia national team
Croatia national team

International goals



Real Madrid[29]






  1. "Dȁvor1". Hrvatski jezični portal (in Serbo-Croatian). Retrieved 2018-03-17. Dȁvor
  2. "Dobro došo´ predsjedniče: Šuker od Markovića preuzeo hrvatski nogomet - "Moja misija je pobjeda"". Index.hr (in Croatian). 5 July 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 "Suker: 'The small teams can win too'". YouTube.com.
  4. 1 2 "Davor Suker: Bio". Real Madrid.com.
  5. 1 2 3 "Davor Šuker". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Davor Sucker". Arsenal.com.
  7. Walker, Michael (1 December 1999). "Schwarzer the hero sees Middlesbrough through". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  8. "Arsenal break Wembley hoodoo". BBC. 22 September 1999. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  9. Pierce, Bill (2 November 1999). "Champions League – Overmars double as Gunners sign off". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  10. Lawrence, Amy (26 August 2000). "Hammers earn late reward". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  11. Fifield, Dominic (5 September 2000). "Suker outshines exotic imports". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  12. "West Ham 2–0 Blackburn". BBC. 31 October 2000. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  14. "Suker, Croatia's golden player". FIFA.com.
  15. "Davor Šuker's chip at EURO 96: Croatia v Denmark". YouTube.com.
  16. "EURO '96 team of the tournament". UEFA.com.
  17. "Davor Suker: "As a kid I dreamt of winning the Golden Boot - France 98 was the realisation"". Four Four Two.com.
  18. Ornstein, David (20 November 2007). "Suker salutes Healy scoring feat". BBC. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  19. Holiga, Aleksandar. "Davor Suker: is he doing more for himself than for Croatian football?". The Guardian.
  20. Holiga, Aleksandar. "Euro 2012: The problem with Croatia's nationalistic fans starts at the top". The Guardian.
  21. Schächter, Tobias. "Kroatien fürchtet harte Sanktionen". Süddeutsche Zeitung.
  22. "Davor Šuker se slikao na grobu Ante Pavelića". Kurir. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015.
  23. Redžić, Dea. "Šuker pozirao na Pavelićevom grobu, a danas mora kazniti Šimunića". Index.
  24. "Arsenal hero fined over coin theft". Daily Mirror.
  25. Matanović, Ilija. "Šuker: Žao mi je, nisam znao da zlatnici toliko vrijede... Sudac: Još se sjećam što ste napravili Nijemcima 1998". Jutarnji List.
  26. Živko, Ivana. "Davor Šuker pronašao antičke novčiće u avionu i nije ih vratio". 24 Sata.
  27. "Spanjolski mediji Suker optuzen zbog nasilja nad novinarima". HINA.
  28. "Davor Suker National team statistics". Rsssf.com. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  29. "Davor Šuker". Eurosport.com.
  30. "Sukerman likes it hot". The Guardian.com.
  31. "Suker, Croatia's golden player". Fifa.com.
  33. "Yugoslavia - List of Final Tables". RSSSF.com.
  34. ""Vecernji list" Player of the Year". RSSSF.com.
  35. "Kohorta i dalje misli da Šuker nije trebao postati počasni građanin". Vecernji.hr (in Hungarian).
  36. "Davor Šuker: Ne stidim se Osijeka!". Gol.Dnevnik.hr (in Hungarian).
  37. "ODLUKU KOJOM SE ODLIKUJU REDOM DANICE HRVATSKE S LIKOM FRANJE BUČARA" (in Croatian). hrvatska.poslovniforum.hr.
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