Saturday, December 9, 2017

Croatian Australian Greatest All Time Team

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
French Black Players 
French Algerian
African American PlayersGerman Americans/American Germans
German Turks 
Hispanic/Latino American Players
Polish diaspora.
Black Portuguese Players
Afro-Brazilian Players 
Dutch-Indos/Indonesia-born Dutch All-Time Team
If Ronaldo and Messi played for Australia in 2006
New Zealand All-Time Team

The Croatian community in Australia is known for their involvement to soccer.  Sydney Croatia(now Sydney United 58 FC) and Melbourne Croatia (Melbourne Knights FC) were famous clubs in Australia. A large number of Australian professional players are Croatian Australians. Some of them have played in the professional league in Croatia.  They have represented for both Croatia and Australia. Seven of them have captained the Australian national team.  At the World Cup Finals in 2006, seven of the Australia's 23-man squad were Croatian-Australians(including Mark Bresciano who is half-Croat) and three Australian-born players played for Croatia. The Australian-Croatian Soccer Tournament is the oldest running soccer competition in Australia.

This is my selection of All-Time Team for Croatian Australian.  The number 23 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the World Cup Finals.

Australia vs Croata at the WC Finals in 2006
GK: Mark Bosnich (Australia)
Bosnich was voted as Oceania Goalkeeper of the Century.  He was known for his career with Aston Villa.   He earned himself a transfer back to Manchester United in 1999, but his career started to fall apart over there.  He also played for Chelsea. He also played in Australia for Sydney United, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney Olympic. For the national team, he only earned 17 caps due to club's commitment.
Mark Bosnich
GK Zeljko Kalac (Australia)
Kalac made his name with Sydney United.  He moved to Europe in 1995.  He played in England, holland and Italy.  He was the backup keeper for AC Milan as they won the Champions' League in 2006-2007. He spent most of his career between Bosnich and Schwarzer, but still earned 54 caps for Socceroos.  He played against Croata at the WC Finals in 2006.

GK: Robert Zabica (Australia)
Zabica started his career with Cockburn City before joining Adelaide City for seven seasons, winning National Soccer League championships in 1992 and 1994. He also played for Perth Glory and made 3 appearance for Bradford City in England. He made his State debut at the age of 31 and went on to play a further five times for Western Australia. He played for Australia in the qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup finals, losing narrowly to Argentina. 

RB: Ivan Franjic (Australia)
At time of writing, he plays for Brisbane Roar.  He began his career St Albans Saints in 2005.  He also played Melbourne Knights Torpedo Moscow, Melbourne City and Daegu.  In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil he started at right back in Australia's 3–1 loss to Chile, but was later ruled out of the remainder of the tournament because of an injury. Franjic started for Australia in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup Final. 
Ivan Franjic vs Croatia

DF: Ivo Prskalo (Australia)
Prskalo began his senior career with Velež Mostar in the Yugoslav First League. He made 168 appearances in nine seasons with the club, establishing himself as a key defender in the squad. He emigrated to Australia for the inaugural season of the National Soccer League in 1977 joining Marconi Fairfield. In 1979, he won NSL Player of the Year in Marconi’s championship year. 

DF: Ivo Rudic (Australia)
Ivo Rudic was born in Split, Croatia, but moved to Australia.  In his domestic career, he played for Pan-Hellic(now Sydney Olympic)in Australia. He represented Australia at the FIFA World Cup Finals in 1974. He was an unused in the tournament.

CB: Steve Horvat (Australia)
Horvat began his career with Melbourne Croatia. He later played with Sunshine George Cross, North Geelong Warriors, the Melbourne Knights (for whom he won the Joe Marston Medal), Hajduk Split, Crystal Palace (although he didn't make a league appearance and Carlton. Horvat was a regular member of the Australian national side, making 32 appearances between 1994 and 2002.

CB: Milan Ivanovic (Australia) 
Milan Ivanovic started his career with Red Star Belgrade.  After stints with OFK Belgrade and Radnički Niš, he emigrated to Australia and on arrival in 1989 he joined Adelaide City.  He was elected into Australia's team of the century.  He was voted into the Hall of Champions, the highest honor in the Football Hall of Flame in Australia. He earned 59 caps for Socceroos.

CB: Josip Šimunić (Croatia) 
Born in Australia to Bosnian Croat parents, Šimunić started his career at Melbourne Knights. He spent 14 seasons in the Bundesliga with Hamburger SV, Hertha BSC and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before finishing his career in Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb. He played for Croatia from 2001 to 2013, appeared in five major tournaments.  He is the third most capped player in the history of the Croatia national team. In Germany 2006 against Australia, he was best remembered for receiving three yellow cards.

Josip Šimunić 
CB: Tony Popovic (Australia)
Starting in 1989 at Sydney United he went on to play for Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan and Premier League side Crystal Palace, among other clubs. He appeared with the Socceroos at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he played against reigning World Champions Brazil. He had 58 caps in total. 

LB: Anthony Šerić (Croatia)
Born in Australia of Croatian background, he began his professional football career with Hajduk Split.  He played in Italy with Parma, Verona, Adaílton, Lazio and Brescia.  He also played with Panathinaikos, Beşiktaş, Karabükspor and S.C. Olhanense. He was a part of the team that finished 3rd at the 1998 World Cup in France. He earned 16 caps and also went to 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals. 

DM/CM: Mile Jedinak (Australia)
Jedinak started with Sydney United.  Following loan spells at Varteks and South Coast United, Jedinak moved to Central Coast Mariners in 2006. He next played in Turkey, for Gençlerbirliği and Antalyaspor on loan before joining Crystal Palace. Jedinak earned 60 caps for Socceroos, and has been captain for over 25 times since 2014. He went to the 2010 and 2014 World Cup Finals. He captained Australia to victory on home soil in the 2015 Asian Cup. 

DM: Wally Savor (Australia)
Wally Savor was born in 1959. From 1984 to 1991, Savor played for Sydney Croatia. He had 23 caps for Australia. He made his national team debut against China.  He was a member of the squad that beat Argentina in 1988.   He is a member of Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame.

CM: Ned Zelic  (Australia)
Ned Zelic had a successful career playing in Bundesliga.  He started his career in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.  Then, he moved to Queens Park Rangers as the club's record signing.  He failed to settle there. He later played in France and then, Germany again. Zelic was captain of the Australian team that competed and finished 4th at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Ned Zelic
CM: Josip Skoko (Australia)
Josip Skoko played for North Geelong Warriors, Hajduk Split, Genk, Gençlerbirliği, Wigan Athletic, Stoke City and Melbourne Heart. At Genk he was made captain and helped the team win the title in 2001–02.  Skoko was a member of the Australian National football team for ten years, from 1997 to 2007.  He had over 50 caps. He was a member of the 2006 World Cup team.

CM: Frank Micic (Australia)
After playing junior football in Zadar Croatia (ex Yugoslavia), Micic moved to Australia, where he played for JUST in the Victorian State League between 1959 and 1977. Micic was also awarded Bill Fleming's VPL's Best Player Medal three times - in 1964, 1967 and 1973. He also played for Melbourne Hakoah for the 1978 VSL season. Capped 6 times.

CM/RM/RB: Jason Culina (Australia)
Culina started his career with Sydney United under his father, Branko Culina, before moving to Ajax, but only after moving to Twente did Culina begin to shine at the top level in club football. He moved to PSV in 2005. In 2009, he was signed by Gold Coast United, becoming the club's first marquee player. He also played briefly with A-League club Sydney FC. Capped 58 times.  He was a starter in the 2006 World Cup Finals.

Jason Culina

AM/CM/LW: Marco Bresciano (Australia)
Marco Bresciano played for Bulleen Lions and Carlton before he moved to Italian side Empoli in 1999, beginning a twelve-year stay in the country. He played for Parma, Palermo and S.S. Lazio. He made 84 appearances and scoring 13 goals with Socceroos. He played in three World Cups, two AFC Asian Cups (one victorious) and the 2004 OFC Nations Cup winning team. 

ST: David Zdrilic (Australia)
David Zdrilic played for Sydney FC in the A-League and has also played in Switzerland, Germany, England and Scotland. He has played on 30 occasions for the Australia national soccer team, having once scored eight goals in a single match – the second highest recorded for any Australian player, behind Socceroos teammate Archie Thompson, who scored 13 goals in the same game.

ST: Billy Vojtek (Australia)
He migrated to Australia with his family as a child in 1956. Vojtek played the majority of his career with Melbourne Croatia (now Melbourne Knights). He was selected in the Melbourne Knights Team of the Century as the number 9, the team's other striker was Mark Viduka. He played 44 times for Australia, but only 29 were recognised by FIFA.  He was not selected for the 1974 WC Finals.

ST: Eddie Krncevic (Australia)
Krncevic played professional soccer in Australia before moving to Europe.  He first played for NK Dinamo Zagreb and MSV Duisburg. Then, he spent ten and a half years in Belgium.  He played Cercle Brugge KSV, Royal Charleroi, R.S.C. Anderlecht, R.F.C. de Liège and K.S.C. Eendracht Aalst; he became the first Australian-born player to be crowned top scorer in a European league. Internationally, he earned 35 caps, and helping the country to the 1980 OFC Nations Cup.

ST: Branko Buljevic (Australia)
Born in Yugoslavia, he played he played with OFK Belgrade before he went to play in Australia. He spent nine seasons playing for Footscray JUST, then moving on to play for Heidelberg United and South Melbourne FC respectively. He was a member of the Australian 1974 World Cup squad in West Germany and represented Australia 30 times between 1972 and 1975.  

ST: Mark Viduka (Australia)
Viduka started with Croatian-based club Melbourne Knights FC.  He went to Europe in 1995, where he was probably the most famous Australian playing in Europe.  He played in Croatia, Scotland and England.  In Scotland, he was the top scoring in the Scottish league and won the SPFA Player of the Season with Celtics. And then, he joined Leeds United, where the club reached the semifinal of the Champions' League.  He also played for Middlesbrough and Newcastle United.
Mark Viduka 

Honorable Mention
Joey Didulica (Croatia), Eugene Galekovic (Australia), Dario Vidošić (Australia), Tomi Juric (Australia), Jason Petkovic (Australia), Michael Petkovic (Australia), Zeljko Adzic (Croatia), Zlatko Arambasic (Australia), Mark Babic (Australia), Oliver Bozanic (Australia), Ante Juric (Australia), Andrew Marth (Australia), Ljubo Milicevic (Australia), Ante Milicic (Australia), Branko Milosevic (Australia), Matthew Spiranovic (Australia), Miloš Degenek (Australia).

Squad Explanation
-- Mark Bosnich, Mark Viduka, Ned Zelic, Milan Ivanovic and Zeljko Kalac are on my all-time Australia team.  They are my automatic selection.
-- Jason Culina, Steve Horvat, Mile Jedinak, Mark Vuduka, Josip Skoko, Eddie Krncevic and Zeljko Kalac have captained the Socceroos.
-- As of 2019, Australia and Croatia played each other six times.  Their record is tied with 2-2-2.  The most famous game was between them at the 2006 World Cup Finals, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
-- At the 2006 World Cup Finals, Australia's 23-man squad had seven players (if Bresciano is included) with Croatian roots.  Joey Didulica, Josip Šimunić and Anthony Šerić played for Croatia against Australia that day.  
-- The first two matches between the two countries were a part of friendlies in July, 1992. Croatia lost both matches. Milan Ivanovic and goalkeeper Robert Zabica played in that game. Mehmet Duraković who was an Albanian born in Montenegro also played for Australia.
-- In 1998, Croatia beat Australia 7-0 in Zagreb.  Australia featured Tony Popovic, Zeljko Kalac and Mark Viduka, who are on this all-time team.  Mark Babic is honourable mention. The match was a preparation match for Croatia before the 1998 World Cup Finals, where Croatia reached the semi-final.
-- I selected two players here who played for Croatia. Josip Šimunić and Anthony Šerić represented Croatia in football.  Šimunić was at one point the third most capped player in the history of the Croatia national team. He is bets remembered for receiving three yellow cards from referee Graham Poll against Australia in the 2006 World Cup Finals. Poll was confused with his Australian accent.
-- I do not know the family tree of every Australian footballers of note.  I selected the obvious ones with Croatian surnames, etc.  Marco Bresciano's father was born in Italy.  His mother was from Istria, Croatia.  I am sure that some Australian players might have Croatian heritage from the mother side.
-- Besides the three players on Croatia's 2006 World Cup team, Zeljko Adzic is the only other Australian-Croatian player who had earned a cap with Croatia. He played club football in Croatia before moving to Australia.  He returned to Croatia and capped for Croatia in 1993.  He was the winner of Željko Adžić for the best player in the Australian national soccer club competition. Some source listed him as an Australian, but I am not sure.  He can be just a foreign player playing in Australia.  So I only put him on honourable mention.He earned a single cap in 1993, but his Australian citizenship is unconfirmed.
-- Most players are born and/or have their early football training in Australia. Ivo Prskalo,  Branko Buljevic and Milan Ivanovic were exceptional cases.  They were naturalised footballers who started club football in the former Yugoslavia.  
-- Frank Micic spent some time playing youth football in Australia, but he started his club football in Australia.  Billy Vojtek also came to Australia as a child and learned his football in Australia. The same applied to Ivo Rudic.
-- We have plenty of talents in goalkeeping.  Bosnich and Kalac were the obvious choices.  Jason Petkovic, Michael Petkovic Eugene Galekovic and Joey Didulica were seriously considered. Didulica is very well-known because he was Croatia/s 2006 World Cup team.
-- Ivo Prskalo did well in the domestic league, despite only earning a handful of caps.  I do not know his extra defensive position.
-- Tomi Juric was not chosen because I carried too many strikers.



  1. Milan Ivanovic is not croat but serb

  2. Very good team. Popovic for ivanovic. Ivanovic is proud Serb . Also Tomislav pondeljak is missing.

  3. And milos degenjak is Serb. Maybe we should make a Serb team off the year. We might get 4 Australian internationals. How can very similar countries in past and football history be so miles apart. Except Serbs are a bigger country. Dominated Yugoslav football through communism. Just shows what pride does and fighting for a cause. A free croatia. That passion drove us to make up 50% off the national team at times with a population off 0.6%. Just incredible and FFA should do more for croatian clubs in Australia