By Mate Juric
An outstanding performance in the World Cup playoff against Greece by captain Luka Modric helped guide Croatia to their 5th World Cup. Modric was instrumental all campaign.
Recently, for the third year in a row, he was named in the FIFA World 11, a feat which had not been achieved by any Croatian footballer. Modric also was the first Croatian to be named in the UEFA Team of the Year and to win the UEFA Champions League for the third time.
The Real Madrid maestro over the past three seasons has, we think, finally put the debate to bed about who is the greatest Croatian footballer since the country became independent in the early 1990s.
Here are our TOP 5 greatest Croatian players since independence.
1. Luka Modrić
The 32-year-old central midfielder was criticised earlier in his career, but he has proven his critics wrong. After starting his career at Dinamo Zagreb and establishing himself in the English Premier League, he moved to Real Madrid for a fee of £33 million.
He has won the UEFA Champions League three times, the FIFA World Club twice, and been named the Croatian Footballer of the Year four times. Next summer will be his third World Cup.
2. Davor Šuker
Šuker was Croatia’s most recognisable footballer in the 1990s when the country was making a name for itself. He will most notably be remembered for winning the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup in France.
A prolific goalscorer, Šuker had spells at Osijek, Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Arsenal, West Ham and Munich. He remains Croatia’s top goal scorer of all time. Šuker came third in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1998.
3. Zvonimir Boban
Croatia’s leader throughout the 1990s. Boban played most of his career in Italy for AC Milan with whom he won four Serie A titles and one UEFA Champions League title.
Boban was a talented and creative yet tenacious player, known for his use of feints to beat opponents. He was gifted with excellent vision, passing range, dribbling skills, technical ability, and an eye for the final ball.
4. Robert Prosinečki
Probably the most technically gifted player in the TOP 5. Prosinečki is one of the few footballers to have played for both the Spanish rival clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
Amazing on the ball and had the ability to beat his man at ease. Sometimes he was criticised that he would try and do too much. Harry Redknapp once said that Prosinečki was one of the best footballers he had ever seen.
5. Alen Bokšić
Bokšić was a prolific striker who spent most of his career in France and Italy (Marseille, Juventus, Lazio). Renowned for his technique and power, Bokšić was regarded as one of the best foreign players in the history of Serie A.
He missed out on the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France due to an injury he suffered only weeks before the tournament. Near the end of his career, he moved to Middlesbrough, where he was one of the highest paid players in English football at the time.