The Viduka Story
Posted April 23, 2007on:
Mark Viduka played his whole junior career with Melbourne Croatia. Some of the older Melbourne fourmites (Sulla especially ) would know that he was a member of one of Melb.Croatia’s greatest ever junior teams. Mark was a member of the Melb.Croatia youth team at 15 (youth boys are 17 & 18) and went to the AIS in 1991. He was a member of Australia’s junior teams and was captain of the Australian U’20 team at the WC. He didn’t wear a checkered armband; it was red, white and blue.
He was a hit almost instantly in his debut season (before leaving the Australian Institute of Sport he rejected better offers from clubs like Marconi) and his TV interviews were full of Croatian references (he would often say his favourite player is Zvonimir Boban, Croatian music was his favourite, Croatian food etc).
Mark grew up within the Croatian community and was so well known he was even interviewed on a Croatian radio program (a somewhat controversial incident ) at the age of 13.
Viduka developed a tradition of kissing the Melb. Croatia emblem whenever scoring a goal. He’d usually accompany the kiss with a salute to the fans…some people thought the salute belonged to a bygone era but Mark persisted nonetheless.
Mark made his international debut in June of 1994 against South Africa. It wasn’t until 1995 and after the Youth WC that Croatian football people became aware of him. By that stage it was too late to have Mark play for Croatia but it didn’t mean he couldn’t join a Croatian club. The push for Mark to go to Dinamo Zagreb was joined by President Tuđman on his visit to Australia. Tuđman made a quick visit to Melbourne Croatia, meeting senior and junior players from the club. It is said his real mission was to talk to Mark Viduka about joining Dinamo. Obviously it worked because by season’send Mark
signed for Dinamo.Viduka chose Dinamo for two reasons: opportunity to actually play and develop (as opposed to sitting on the bench at Dortmund or Hamburg). The second reason was patriotism.
Today he’s a proud Aussie with a Croatian wife, children fluent in Croatian, a Croatian holiday home, a yacht moored on the Croatian Adriatic, best friends that are Croatian, business interests in Croatia
By Tome Millin ( Reader and Blog Commenter of Croatian11.com)