Melbourne Knights (Australia), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Celtic
Glasgow (Scotland), Leeds United FC (England), Middlesbrough FC
Mark Viduka (born October 9, 1975 in Melbourne) is an
Australian football (soccer) striker of Croatian and Ukrainian
descent. He currently plays for Middlesbrough in the English
Premier League, and has also played for Croatia Zagreb, Celtic
Viduka started his career in Australia with Melbourne Croatia (Knights)
in 1994, and he also became an Australian international the same
year. In 1995 he moved to Croatia to play with Croatia Zagreb,
where he stayed for three years and made an appearance in the
Celtic bought him in December 1998 for £3.5 million. He was
voted Scottish Premier League Player of the Year after scoring
27 goals in his first full season at Celtic Park. He was
regarded as a skilled player, able to hold the ball up well and
bring other players into the game.
However, Viduka's often lackadaisical attitude infuriated
supporters, and a widely-reported quote where he announced that
he was "playing to only about 70 per cent of my capacity up here
[Scotland]" did not endear him to either the fans or his fellow
team-mates. Moreover, he exhibited a tendency to play
anonymously in big games, and scored only one goal in his six
Old Firm derbies.
The Leeds United manager David O'Leary swooped for Viduka just
before the 2000/2001 season after tracking the big Aussie
striker for some time. Leeds paid Celtic £6 million. It had been
apparent for some time that Viduka wanted to leave the club --
he ended the 1999/2000 SPL season by failing to score any goals
in his final seven appearances of the campaign. Celtic's newly-installed
manager, Martin O'Neill, immediately sold him to the Yorkshire
club and spent the fee on Chris Sutton.
At Leeds he was expected to line up in a three-pronged attack
alongside fellow Aussie Harry Kewell and Michael Bridges, but
injuries to those two saw him form a partnership with Alan Smith
in Leeds UEFA Champions League matches, while Robbie Keane also
benefited in their Premiership matches together. In his first
Elland Road season, Viduka scored 22 goals, including all four
in a memorable 4-3 win over Liverpool at Elland Road. He signed
a new five-year deal in the summer of 2001.
In the 2002/03 campaign Viduka scored another 22 goals, forming
a good partnership with Smith and feeding off a rich supply line
provided by Kewell.
However, Leeds' off-pitch financial troubles prompted the club
to sell key players, including Kewell (sold to Liverpool) and
Keane (sold to Spurs). This prompted speculation that Viduka
would join the Leeds exodus with Barcelona (Spanish Primera
Liga) confirming their interest in the Australian international
along with Premiership clubs Liverpool and Manchester United.
With the relegation of Leeds United to the Football League
Championship, the sale of Viduka's contract during the summer of
2004 became all but inevitable. On 8 July, Viduka's transfer to
Middlesbrough was completed.
Viduka's debut season at Boro was initially impressive but then
tarnished by injuries and he will be hoping that he makes more
regular appearances in 2005/2006, although the club has
augmented its striking options by signing Aiyegbeni Yakubu from
He has captained the Australian national team since September
2005, in place of the injured Craig Moore, the regular captain.
Since the arrival of Guus Hiddink as coach of the national squad,
Viduka has thrived and grown as a leader of the team, as may be
expected at the relatively mature age of thirty. He recently
succeeded in captaining Australia to the 2006 World Cup in
Germany over a two-leg qualifier against Uruguay, the first time
in 32 years that Australia will be at the event.