Welcome to the third weekly Flashback Friday feature on Football Meets Football. In a slight change to proceedings we will now run footballers and American footballers on alternate weeks; this week it is the turn of the footballer. If you have any suggestions for players you would like to have featured in this article leave a comment on here, on our Facebook page or on our Twitter (@FBmeetsFB). This weeks player will be Mark Viduka.
Mark Anthony Viduka was born in Melbourne, Australia on 9th October 1975.
Mark started his football career in 1993 with his hometown Melbourne Knights. It took just 1 year of playing for him to earn his first international call up to the Australia squad in 1994. He played for the Knights for 2 years, and both seasons he finished top scorer in the National Soccer League with 17 goals during the 93/94 season and 18 in 94/95. He was also awarded the Johnny Warren Medal at the end of both seasons, given to the best player in the NSL, as he led the Knights to back to back titles.
Following the 94/95 season he was signed by Dinamo Zagreb for an undisclosed fee. He spent 3 and a half years in Croatia, scoring 40 goals in 84 appearances for the club. During his time there he played in both the UEFA Cup in 1996 and and the Champions League in 1997. It was during these years he scored his first international goal as he slotted home in an October 1997 friendly against Tunisia. He also featured in the Australia squad that attempted to qualify for the 1998 World Cup but unfortunately they could not make it past Iran in the Oceania/Asia playoff.
In December 1998 Mark Viduka made the trip over to British shores as he was snapped up by Celtic in a £3.5 million deal. However within a month of signing and without kicking a ball Viduka had announced he was quitting the club citing stress as his reason for doing so. The situation between the two parties was eventually resolved and Mark made his debut for the club on 27th February 1999. After the 1999/00 season, his first and only full season in Scotland, Viduka was named Scottish Player of the Year, scoring 27 goals as Celtic finished 2nd in the league behind bitter rivals Rangers. However Mark was the centre of more controversy during his time in Scotland – during a 3rd round Scottish Cup tie against lower league side Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Celtic Park the Hoops found themselves trailing 2-1 at half time. Viduka reportedly threw his boots in the bin in the dressing room and refused to play the remainder of the game after an altercation with an assistant coach and Celtic ended up losing the game 3-1. He would leave Glasgow after just a season and a half with Celtic, scoring 30 goals in 37 games in all competitions.
Mark made the trip south of the border and joined Leeds United for the 2000/01 season after a £6 million fee was agreed between the Leeds and Celtic. His first season in Yorkshire was a cracker as he tallied 22 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions, including all 4 goals in a thrilling 4-3 victory over Liverpool at Elland Road. Leeds would finish 4th in the Premier League that season, and Mark top scored for the club with 17 goals in the following season which would help Leeds finish 5th. The 2002/03 season was not as kind to United as they finished 15th, however Viduka had his highest scoring season for the club as he notched 22 goals in 40 games, and it was his game winning goal in a 3-2 victory at Arsenal in the penultimate game of the season which secured the teams safety. 2003/04 would be Viduka’s last season with Leeds, and despite top scoring again with 12 goals in 31 games Leeds would be relegated after finishing 19th in the league.
Following Leeds’ relegation he was signed by Middlesbrough for £4.5 million. His first season on Teeside was hampered by injuries and he managed only 19 games, scoring 5 goals. He was in fine form in the 2005/06 season, scoring 16 goals in 43 appearances as Boro finished runners up in the UEFA Cup. He would have an even better season in 2006/07, scoring 19 goals in 37 games and, despite a number of attempts by Boro to retain his services, he would leave at the end of that season when his contract ran out.
During his time with Middlesbrough he took a huge step his international career as he was named captain of Australia in September 2005, and he would lead the Socceroos to qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany – the second time in the country’s history they made the tournament and the first time since 1974. Australia would make the second round before being knocked out by Italy and unfortunately Viduka did not score during the competition. He would also captain his country in the 2007 Asian Cup, scoring 3 goals in the group stage before Australia were knocked out by Japan in the quarter finals on penalties. It would be the last time he played for the Socceroos.
Mark joined Newcastle United for the 2007/08 season on a free transfer. The reason he chose to join Newcastle was because he was a lifelong supporter of Australian team Collingwood FC who are also nicknamed the Magpies and wanted to play for a team with the same nickname who also played in black and white stripes. His first goal for the club would come against Middlesbrough, the team he left during the summer, on 26th August. He would finish the season with 7 goals from 28 games, however he suffered an Achilles injury towards the end of the season that would rule him out for 6 months. He would come back in November of the 2008/09 season but suffered a groin injury shortly after his return and was limited to just 6 starts and 6 substitute appearances for the whole season and did not register a goal. Newcastle would be relegated that year; they released Viduka and he did not play for another club.
He would finish his club career with 409 games and 202 goals, with an additional 43 games and 11 goals at international level.
Since retiring from the game Mark Viduka has led a very private life with his family and has rejected many TV and advertising offers. He returned to his first club the Melbourne Knights to coach their youth teams, where one of his three sons is playing.