The Most Famous

SOCCER PLAYERS from Croatia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Croatian Soccer Players. The pantheon dataset contains 16,923 Soccer Players, 175 of which were born in Croatia. This makes Croatia the birth place of the 16th most number of Soccer Players behind Serbia and United States.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Croatian Soccer Players of all time. This list of famous Croatian Soccer Players is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Croatian Soccer Players.

Photo of Dražan Jerković

1. Dražan Jerković (1936 - 2008)

With an HPI of 69.56, Dražan Jerković is the most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages on wikipedia.

Dražan Jerković (Croatian pronunciation: [drǎʒan jěːrkoʋitɕ]; 6 August 1936 – 9 December 2008) was a Yugoslav and Croatian professional football manager and player. His professional playing career spanned from 1954 to 1966, during which he played for Dinamo Zagreb and AA La Gantoise.

Photo of Davor Šuker

2. Davor Šuker (1968 - )

With an HPI of 69.24, Davor Šuker is the 2nd most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.

Davor Šuker (Croatian pronunciation: [dâʋoːr ʃǔker] (listen); born 1 January 1968) is a Croatian former professional footballer and president of the Croatian Football Federation from 2012 to 2021. During his playing career, Šuker featured as a striker. He began his footballing career in his hometown for local first division team NK Osijek as a 16-year-old. During his final season with the club, he became the league's top goal scorer. He made the move to sign for Dinamo Zagreb in 1989. The Croatian War of Independence halted a promising season for the 21-year-old, eventually resulting in Šuker's move to Spanish club Sevilla in 1991. In La Liga, Šuker was highly regarded, showing consistent form with Sevilla and being consecutively amongst the division's top goal scorers. He signed with Real Madrid five years later, and was again amongst the league's top scorers. While at the Santiago Bernabéu, he helped Madrid claim the Liga and UEFA Champions League titles as well. A move to Arsenal saw him distinguish himself throughout their run to the UEFA Cup final of 2000. He then had a spell with West Ham United, then closed his career playing for German side 1860 Munich. The crowning moment of Šuker's career was the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, where he won the Golden Boot by scoring six goals in seven matches. He also won the Silver Ball as the second-best player of tournament, behind Ronaldo. His goal-scoring feats proved instrumental in the Croatians winning the bronze medal in their debut World Cup. Croatia did not lose a single match which Šuker scored in prior to their semi-final loss to eventual champions France. Named as Croatia's Golden Player for the UEFA 2003 Jubilee anniversary, he came third in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1998. He is also on the FIFA 100 list of great footballers, as the only Croatian on such. Šuker is also Croatia's all-time top scorer with 45 goals altogether. He is generally regarded as the greatest Croatian striker of all time.Under his highly controversial leadership as the president of Croatian Football Federation, Croatia reached runner-up at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the highest achievement Croatia ever made since their independence in 1992 and twenty years since their third-place finish.

Photo of Josip Skoblar

3. Josip Skoblar (1941 - )

With an HPI of 69.11, Josip Skoblar is the 3rd most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Josip Skoblar (born 12 March 1941) is a Croatian former professional football player and manager. He was primarily a forward, and also capable of playing on both wings. He played for Zadar, OFK Belgrade, Hannover 96, Marseille and NK Rijeka. While playing at Marseille, Skoblar won the French First Division twice (1970–71, 1971–72), 1971 Challenge des Champions and 1972 Coupe de France. He was also the league top goalscorer three seasons in a row (1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73) and in 1971, he won the European Golden Shoe. In 2009, he was inaugurated into the Olympique de Marseille Hall of Fame and in 2010 he was put into "The Dream Team 110 years of Olympique de Marseille". Skoblar is also part of the all time XI of OFK Belgrade and NK Rijeka. At the international level, Skoblar played for Yugoslavia appearing in 32 matches and scoring 11 goals. He was in the national team at the 1962 FIFA World Cup where they finished in fourth place losing to Czechoslovakia in the semi-final. As a manager, he managed NK Orijent, HNK Rijeka, Hamburger SV, Čelik Zenica, Dinamo Zagreb, Real Valladolid, Famalicão, NK Zagreb, Nîmes, Zadarkomerc, Marseille, Lebanon national team and Hajduk Split, with whom he won two Yugoslav Cups (1987, 1991).

Photo of Ilija Petković

4. Ilija Petković (1945 - 2020)

With an HPI of 69.02, Ilija Petković is the 4th most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Ilija Petković (Serbian Cyrillic: Илија Петковић, pronounced [ǐlija pětkoʋitɕ]; 22 September 1945 – 27 June 2020) was a Serbian footballer and manager. Petković was capped 43 times for Yugoslavia, participating in the 1968 European Football Championship, and in the 1974 FIFA World Cup where he scored a goal in a big 9–0 win against Zaire. He played much of his career in OFK Beograd, with a mid-career stint playing for Troyes. He began his coaching career in 1990 with his original club, OFK Beograd, and he went on to coach numerous other clubs. He coached his national team three times: first as an assistant from 1997 to 1998, then from 2000 to 2001 and most notably from 2003 to 2006 – including the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Photo of Stjepan Bobek

5. Stjepan Bobek (1923 - 2010)

With an HPI of 68.50, Stjepan Bobek is the 5th most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Stjepan Bobek (pronounced [stjêpaːn bǒbek]; 3 December 1923 – 22 August 2010) was a Croatian and Yugoslav professional football striker and later football manager.Usually a forward or attacking midfielder, Bobek was renowned for his technique, vision and goalscoring ability and is commonly regarded as one of Yugoslavia's greatest players. He is remembered for his time at the Serbian side Partizan Belgrade, where he moved to following the end of World War II. He played for Partizan between 1945 and 1959 helping them win two Yugoslav First League titles and four Yugoslav Cups, and was named the club's greatest player in history in 1995. Internationally, he is the second all-time top scorer for the Yugoslavia national team, scoring 38 goals in 63 appearances between 1946 and 1956, and was member of Yugoslav squads which won two Olympic silver medals (in 1948 and 1952) and played in two FIFA World Cups (in 1950 and 1954). After retiring from active football in 1959, he was a successful manager, winning Yugoslav and Greek national titles with Partizan and Panathinaikos.

Photo of Vladimir Beara

6. Vladimir Beara (1928 - 2014)

With an HPI of 68.01, Vladimir Beara is the 6th most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Vladimir Beara (pronounced [ʋlǎdimiːr beâra]; 26 August 1928 – 11 August 2014) was a Yugoslav football goalkeeper and manager. He is considered to have been one of the best goalkeepers of his era.

Photo of Zvonimir Boban

7. Zvonimir Boban (1968 - )

With an HPI of 67.25, Zvonimir Boban is the 7th most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Zvonimir "Zvone" Boban (Croatian pronunciation: [zʋônimiːr bǒban] (listen); born 8 October 1968) is a Croatian former footballer who currently works at UEFA as the Chief of Football. Boban played as a midfielder and was usually deployed as an attacking midfielder. He played most of his professional career for Italian club Milan with whom he won four Serie A titles and one UEFA Champions League title. He also captained the Croatia national team which won third place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Before 1990 and the international recognition of Croatia's national team, Boban had played for the Yugoslavia under-20 team which won the 1987 World Youth Championship. Boban scored three times in this tournament, as well as scoring in the final (drawn 1–1 with West Germany) and then converting the decisive penalty in the shootout. Having made his debut for the senior Yugoslavia team in 1988, Boban switched to playing for Croatia after the national team's inception, debuting against Romania in December 1990. Having appeared seven times for Yugoslavia, scoring once, Boban was capped 49 times for Croatia, scoring 12 goals, between 1992 and 1999. Since retiring from playing in 2002, Boban gained a history degree from the University of Zagreb. He has also become a football pundit on Croatian and Italian television, working most notably for Sky Italia and RTL Televizija. He has a reputation as an outspoken analyst.

Photo of Luka Modrić

8. Luka Modrić (1985 - )

With an HPI of 67.20, Luka Modrić is the 8th most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 88 different languages.

Luka Modrić (Croatian pronunciation: [lûːka mǒːdritɕ]; born 9 September 1985) is a Croatian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Spanish club Real Madrid and captains the Croatia national team. He plays mainly as a central midfielder, but can also play as an attacking midfielder or as a defensive midfielder. He is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders of all time, and the greatest Croatian footballer ever.Born in Zadar, Modrić's childhood coincided with the Croatian War of Independence which displaced his family. In 2002, he was signed by Dinamo Zagreb at age 16, after showing promise with his hometown club NK Zadar's youth team. He continued his development in Zagreb, before spells on loan to Zrinjski Mostar and Inter Zaprešić. He made his debut for Dinamo in 2005 and won three consecutive league titles and domestic cups, being named the Prva HNL Player of the Year in 2007. In 2008, he moved to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur for a club-record transfer fee of £16.5 million, where he led Spurs to their first UEFA Champions League appearance in almost 50 years, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2010–11 tournament. In the summer of 2012, Modrić joined Real Madrid for a £30 million transfer fee. There he became a key contributor and helped the team win La Décima and was selected for the 2013–14 Champions League squad of the season. After Zinedine Zidane took over Madrid, Modrić was critical to three consecutive Champions League titles from 2015–16 to 2017–18, each time being voted into the squad of the season. He has won seventeen major trophies at Real Madrid, including four UEFA Champions League titles, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and three FIFA Club World Cup titles. He won the La Liga Award for "Best Midfielder" in 2016 for the second time, and the UEFA Club Football Award for "Best Midfielder" in 2017 and 2018. In 2015, he became the first Croatian player to be included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI, in which he was regularly included until 2019, as well in the UEFA Team of the Year between 2016 and 2018. In 2018, Modrić became the first Croatian player to win the UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award, and by winning The Best FIFA Men's Player and Ballon d'Or awards, he became the first player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the awards in more than a decade. In 2019, he was awarded the Golden Foot award for career results and personality. Modrić made his international debut for Croatia against Argentina in March 2006, and scored his first international goal in a friendly match against Italy. Modrić has anchored Croatia's "second Golden Generation", participating in every major tournament Croatia has qualified for, including the UEFA European Championship in 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020, as well as the FIFA World Cup in 2006, 2014, and 2018. At Euro 2008, he was selected for the Team of the Tournament, becoming only the second Croatian to ever achieve this honour. Following group stage eliminations in his first two World Cups, Modrić led Croatia to the 2018 World Cup Final, and he received the Golden Ball award for best player of the tournament. In March 2021, he went on to become the country's most capped player in history. Furthermore, he has been named Croatian Footballer of the Year a record nine times between 2007 and 2020.

Photo of Zlatko Čajkovski

9. Zlatko Čajkovski (1923 - 1998)

With an HPI of 67.03, Zlatko Čajkovski is the 9th most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Zlatko "Čik" Čajkovski (24 November 1923 – 27 July 1998) was a Croatian and Yugoslavian football player and coach. His brother, Željko Čajkovski, was a footballer as well. Normally a defensive midfielder, Čajkovski was renowned for his tremendous physical condition and marking ability and is considered to be one of the finest Yugoslav footballers. Despite his normally defensive role he was also a fine passer and possessed top-class technical ability.

Photo of Branko Zebec

10. Branko Zebec (1929 - 1988)

With an HPI of 66.63, Branko Zebec is the 10th most famous Croatian Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Branislav "Branko" Zebec (17 May 1929 – 26 September 1988) was a Croatian footballer and manager who played for Yugoslavia. In his heyday, Zebec fascinated the world with his performances at the World Cups in 1954 and 1958. With Partizan he won 3 Yugoslav Cups (1952, 1954, 1957). With Red Star Belgrade he won the national championship in 1960. As coach he led Hajduk Split, Bayern Munich and Hamburger SV to success. A highly versatile player noted for his physical abilities and understanding of the game, Zebec was world-class whether on the left wing or in the more defensive role of left fullback, although he was capable of playing almost every outfield position on the pitch. He was particularly well known for his pace, having been able to run 100 meters in 11 seconds with football boots.

Pantheon has 175 people classified as soccer players born between 1905 and 1998. Of these 175, 153 (87.43%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Davor Šuker, Josip Skoblar, and Zvonimir Boban. The most famous deceased soccer players include Dražan Jerković, Ilija Petković, and Stjepan Bobek. As of October 2020, 27 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Franjo Wölfl, Zlatko Papec, and Aleksandar Kozlina.

Living Soccer Players

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Deceased Soccer Players

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Newly Added Soccer Players (2020)

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Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 22 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.