One of the greatest Croatian and European footballers of all time, Josip Skoblar, has been awarded the Chevalier – Knight of the National Order of Merit by the French government at a ceremony in Marseille on Friday 8 April 2016…
Skoblar received his honour today at the City Hall in Marseille in front of guests which included the Mayor of Marseille Jean-Claude Gaudin, the French sports minister and Croatian footballer federation President Davor Šuker.
“This honour really means a lot to me and I am delighted with the respect the French have shown me. It is beautiful to see that some values you that much. I want to thank Mr. Šuker and the Croatian football federation delegation for coming, it is a nice gesture and I am very glad. I am happy that I will also be an ambassador of the federation at the up coming Euro in France,” Skoblar said upon receiving the honour on Friday.
Skoblar, who was born near Zadar on the Dalmatian coast, is arguable more popular in France than he is in his native Croatia. He started his career with NK Zadar (1957–58). After a successful career at home, he moved to Germany where he played for Hannover 96 (1967–70). In 57 games in Bundesliga, he scored 30 goals.
Skoblar then moved to France and played for Olympique de Marseille and was three-time top goalscorer in Ligue 1 (1971–73). Skoblar won the European Golden Boot in 1971 for 44 goals in Ligue 1, he still remains as the best scorer in a season in Ligue 1. With Olympique, he won the French league title in 1971, and French league and cup title in 1972. OM fans refer to him as “l’Aigle Dalmate”, “l’Aigle Dalmate”/”l’aigle des Dalmates” (The Dalmatian Eagle),or “Monsieur Goal” (Mister Goal). He played international football for Yugoslavia between 1961 and 1967. In 32 games for Yugoslavia, he scored 11 goals and participated in World Cup 1962.
After his playing career he returned to Marseille as a Technical Manager. He has been a scout at the club since 2001.
The Chevalier (Knight) National Order of Merit is an Order of State with membership awarded by the President of the French Republic. To qualify for the medal candidates must have a minimum age of 35, have a minimum of 10 years of public service (although, in practice, 15 years is the minimum commonly needed to be conferred the rank of Chevalier), and “distinguished merits” (for active duty commissioned officers, this is achieved after fifteen years of meritorious service).