Davor Šuker (born on January 1, 1968) is a former Croatian footballer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers in the 1990s. The crowning moment of his career was the 1998 World Cup in France, where he became the top goalscorer and won the Golden Boot by scoring 6 goals in 7 matches, leading the Croatian national team to a third-place finish in their first World Cup appearance. He is also the Croatian national team's all-time goalscoring leader with 45 goals.
Šuker began playing football in his home town of Osijek with the club NK 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, impressive results by which he eamed his first call-up to the Yugoslav national team as well as the attention of foreign clubs. In 1991, he moved to Spanish club Sevilla FC.
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 RCD Espanyol de Barcelona. In the following match, at home against Real Sociedad, he made his first appearance playing from the beginning of the match in which he had scored a brace and secured his club a 2-2 draw. He finished his first Sevilla season with 6 goals in 22 appearances, but in 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,an 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 goalscorer of the league with 24 goals, six less than FC 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.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 goalscorer of the league, behind FC 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. The realisation 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.
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 appearance from the beginning in Arsenal's 3-1 home victory over Aston Villa, where he scored his first two goals in the Premiership. He scored 8 goals, 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.At West Ham, he never managed to find his place in the first team for a longer period and only made 11 Premiership appearances for the club throughout the season, scoring twice. His career in England ended with the end of that season as he decided to make a move to German side 1860 Munchen for the 2001-02 season. His two-season-long Premiership career produced 10 goals in 33 appearances.
At 1860 Munich, Šuker did not manage to make his Bundesliga debut 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 1. FC 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 Mönchengldbach, 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 25 appearances. 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.
Already in his youth, Šuker made 25 international appearances and scored 15 goals for various Yugoslav youth national teams. 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, since Croatia was not yet registered with neither FIFA nor UEFA at the time, and scored his first international goal with the team. 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 fantastic record of 12 goals in 10 matches during the qualifying.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.
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 have 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 on the doorstep of the Final, when 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 and scored four goals in seven appearances during the qualifying. 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 and went on to be a icon for many children around the world, but mostly in Croatia where he was seen as 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 only the third most-capped player in the Croatian national team, but his goalscoring record of 45 goals for the team will probably remain unbeaten for decades, since the nearest followers have all scored less than 30 goals.
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.In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, Šuker was selected as the Golden Player of Croatia by the Croatian Footall Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years. In March 2004, he was named by Pelé as one of the 125 greatest living footballers and was the only Croatian player to be added to the list.