Mark Viduka inducted into FFA Hall of Fame

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.

The burly striker finished the 1993-94 season with 21 appearances for 17 goals. He won the first of his two NSL Player of the Year titles in 1993-94. The club won the Minor Premiership yet fell at the final hurdle for the third time, losing to Adelaide City at Olympic Park in front of over 15,000 fans.
In 1994-95 the Melbourne Knights, and Mark Viduka swept everything in front of it.
The club won the Minor Premiership, the NSL title and NSL Cup – the only Australian club in history to complete the full domestic treble.
Mark Viduka appeared 24 times for 21 goals. He went on to win the Sam Papasavas Medal (best Under 21 player in the league), Johnny Warren Medal (Best Player) and the leading goalscorer award – the only player to ever win all the personal awards available.
At the end of the season Viduka was sold to Croatian First League giants Dinamo Zagreb who were then called Croatia Zagreb.
Mark Viduka is a shining example of player-club loyalty, hard work as well as a perfectly planned career path from the National Soccer League, the Croatian First Division, the Scottish Premier League and ultimately to the English Premier League.
Mark Viduka was and is a legend of the Melbourne Knights – it was only fitting for the Football Federation of Australia to induct him into the Football Hall of Fame last Tuesday at the inaugural FFA Cup Final. The great man joins six other former Melbourne Croatia-Knights players in the Hall of Fame, namely Jimmy Mackay, Billy Vojtek, Eddie Krncevic, Ken Murphy, Robbie Dunn and Alan Davidson.
The Melbourne Knights would like to congratulate Mark Viduka on his deserved induction into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

If you’d like to share some of your memories of the great man in the red, white and blue – join the conversation on Facebook!

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