Davor Šuker

Davor Šuker (Croatian pronunciation: [dâʋor ʃǔːker] (listen);[1] 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.[2] 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 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 Šuker's move to Spanish club Sevilla in 1991.

Davor Šuker
Šuker in 2008
President of the Croatian Football Federation
Assumed office
5 July 2012
Preceded byVlatko Marković
Personal details
Born (1968-01-01) 1 January 1968
Osijek, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
FatherTomislav Šuker
Football administrator

Association football career
Position(s) 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)
1988–1990 Yugoslavia U21 10 (7)
1988 Yugoslavia U23 2 (0)
1990–1991 Yugoslavia 2 (1)
1990–2002 Croatia 69 (45)
Men's football
Representing  Yugoslavia
WinnerFIFA U-20 World Cup1987
Runner-upUEFA U-21 Euro1990
Representing  Croatia
FIFA World Cup1998
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

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 the 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.


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.[4] 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]


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.[3]

Šuker again played for Yugoslavia in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic games. Those appearances came in group stage matches against Brazil and Nigeria.[14] 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 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 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 FIFA World Cup finals in Italy. However, he did not make an appearance at the tournament.[15]

On 22 December 1990, Šuker 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, Šuker scored his first senior international goal. This feat was noted given Croatia was not registered with FIFA nor UEFA at that point.

Šuker'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.[16] Šuker's feats during the tournament saw him named to the Team of the Tournament.[17]

Šuker 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, Šuker was fouled by Christian Wörns who received a straight red card. 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 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, Šuker 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. Šuker 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.[18][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, 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 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, Šuker announced his retirement from international football.

Šuker won a total of 71 international caps during his senior career, 2 for Yugoslavia and 69 for Croatia.[19] 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.[20]


Šuker during a charity match in 2014

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, Šuker posed for a picture at the grave of Croatian fascist dictator Ante Pavelić.[21][22][23][24][25]

In 2011, Šuker 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.[26][27][28]

In 2015, Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) accused Šuker of preventing freedom of information and for physically blocking journalists from reporting and doing their work.[29]

Career statistics


Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Osijek 1985–86 First League 103103
1986–87 269269
1987–88 29102910
1988–89 26182618
Total 91409140
Dinamo Zagreb 1989–90 First League 281234213317
1990–91 3222203422
1991–92 1010
Total 60343400516839
Sevilla 1991–92 La Liga 22643269
1992–93 3313203513
1993–94 3424734127
1994–95 3217233420
1995–96 321631644121
Total 153761810006417790
Real Madrid 1996–97 La Liga 3824554329
1997–98 29101120743915
1998–99 1942061275
Total 8638862013510949
Arsenal 1999–2000 Premier League 22830111323911
West Ham United 2000–01 Premier League 1120021133
1860 Munich 2001–02 Bundesliga 14432176
2002–03 11121132
Total 25553308
Career total 4482033723523712527240


National teamYearAppsGoals


Real Madrid[30]


Yugoslavia Youth

  • FIFA World Youth Championship: 1987[31]
  • UEFA European Under-21 Championship runner-up: 1990




  • Order of Danica Hrvatska with face of Franjo Bučar - 1995[38]
  • Order of the Croatian Trefoil - 1998[39]
  • Order of Duke Trpimir with Ribbon and Star - 2018[40]


  1. "Dȁvor1". Hrvatski jezični portal (in Serbo-Croatian). Retrieved 17 March 2018. 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. "Suker: 'The small teams can win too'". YouTube.com.
  4. "Davor Suker: Bio". Real Madrid.com.
  5. "Davor Šuker". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  6. "Davor Suker". 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. Arnhold, Matthias (12 February 2020). "Davor Suker - Matches and Goals in Bundesliga". RSSSF.com. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  14. "Davor Šuker Bio, Stats, and Results". Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  15. "Suker, Croatia's golden player". FIFA.com.
  16. "Davor Šuker's chip at EURO 96: Croatia v Denmark". YouTube.com.
  17. "EURO '96 team of the tournament". UEFA.com.
  18. "Davor Suker: "As a kid I dreamt of winning the Golden Boot - France 98 was the realisation"". Four Four Two.com.
  19. Mamrud, Roberto (12 February 2020). "Davor Suker - Goals in International Matches". RSSSF.com. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  20. Ornstein, David (20 November 2007). "Suker salutes Healy scoring feat". BBC. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  21. Holiga, Aleksandar. "Davor Suker: is he doing more for himself than for Croatian football?". The Guardian.
  22. Holiga, Aleksandar. "Euro 2012: The problem with Croatia's nationalistic fans starts at the top". The Guardian.
  23. Schächter, Tobias. "Kroatien fürchtet harte Sanktionen". Süddeutsche Zeitung.
  24. "Davor Šuker se slikao na grobu Ante Pavelića". Kurir. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015.
  25. Redžić, Dea. "Šuker pozirao na Pavelićevom grobu, a danas mora kazniti Šimunića". Index.
  26. "Arsenal hero fined over coin theft". Daily Mirror.
  27. Matanović, Ilija. "Šuker: Žao mi je, nisam znao da zlatnici toliko vrijede... Sudac: Još se sjećam što ste napravili Nijemcima 1998". Jutarnji List.
  28. Živko, Ivana. "Davor Šuker pronašao antičke novčiće u avionu i nije ih vratio". 24 Sata.
  29. "Spanjolski mediji Suker optuzen zbog nasilja nad novinarima". HINA.
  30. "Davor Šuker". Eurosport.com.
  31. "Sukerman likes it hot". The Guardian.com.
  32. "Suker, Croatia's golden player". Fifa.com.
  34. "Yugoslavia - List of Final Tables". RSSSF.com.
  35. ""Vecernji list" Player of the Year". RSSSF.com.
  36. "Kohorta i dalje misli da Šuker nije trebao postati počasni građanin". Vecernji.hr (in Hungarian).
  37. "Davor Šuker: Ne stidim se Osijeka!". Gol.Dnevnik.hr (in Hungarian).
  38. "ODLUKU KOJOM SE ODLIKUJU REDOM DANICE HRVATSKE S LIKOM FRANJE BUČARA" (in Croatian). hrvatska.poslovniforum.hr.
  40. "News: President Decorates Croatian National Football Team Players and Coaching Staff". Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia. 13 November 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2018. Mr. Davor Šuker was awarded the Order of Prince Trpimir with Ribbon and Star...
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