Who knew that the young boy pictured above would become synonymous with the name Melbourne Croatia, Melbourne Knights, the Socceroos and Leeds United? Mark Viduka was destined to play soccer after his father Joseph, a fanatic member of the Croatia Soccer Club and long time working committee member took him down to his first training session at the club’s old junior grounds at Cross Keys Reserve in Essendon as a chubby six year old in 1982.
The youngster would go on to remain loyal to one club in Australia, Melbourne Croatia.
Viduka continued through the club’s junior section until the age of 16 where he was promoted into the youth team where he scored 38 goals in the National Youth League. The following year, the 1992-93 season, Mark was given a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport.
After nearly a year with the Institute Mark returned to Melbourne CSC at the end of 1992.
His first senior game for the club was in Round 21 of the National Soccer League against West Adelaide, a team which featured a young Stan Lazaridis.
The popular V-Bomber’s maiden NSL Senior goal was against Preston Makedonia (now Preston Lions) in Round 24 (Sunday 7th March 1993) of the NSL.
Viduka finished the 1992-93 season with a record of 3 starts + 1 substitution (4 appearances) for a return of 2 goals. In the 1993-94 season the club imported respected and renowned coach Mirko Bazic from Croatia who helped nurture the raw talent that Viduka had exhibited to become accustomed with senior football. Such was the youngter’s talent, that Bazic was willing to sacrifice the proven striking option of Ivan Kelic (who moved on to Sydney Olympic) in favour of a quiet young boy.
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