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World Cup 2014 | Aug 2, 2014

1998 World Cup hero: Today in history: Davor Suker signs for Arsenal
1998 World Cup hero: Today in history: Davor Suker signs for Arsenal

ALTHOUGH the home nation won the France 98 World Cup, a team that were making their first appearance at the tournament also received plaudits for their performance.

Croatia were playing in their first ever world cup since gaining independence from Yugoslavia. Star striker Davor Suker won the tournament's golden boot award with six goals in seven matches as the team finished third, losing in the semi-final to eventual winners France.

It was on this day in 1999 that Arsene Wenger paid £3.5m to take Suker to Highbury from Real Madrid to replace Nicolas Anelka, who had gone the other way.

Suker was an uncharacteristic signing for Wenger - rarely has he ever bought established stars, particularly if they are over 30 (Suker was 31 at the time).

Wenger needed reinforcements up front following the departure of Anelka, and Suker was bought with an eye on improving Arsenal's fortunes in Europe.

Wenger said at the time: 'He is a quality striker with experience in the Champions' League and will undoubtedly be a great asset for us.'

After playing in Croatia, Suker enjoyed eight prolific years in the Spanish league, first with Sevilla, and then Real Madrid, before Madrid boss John Toshack deemed him surplus to requirements and moved him on to Arsenal.

The Croatian's time at Highbury was not as successful as either he, or his manager might have hoped. He scored eight goals in 22 starts, but missed a penalty in the UEFA Cup Final as Arsenal lost the shootout to Galatasary.

A move across London to West Ham didn't prove any more productive, so Suker moved to Germany and 1860 Munich for the last two seasons of his career.

Despite not really hitting it off in England, Suker is remembered as one of Europe's top strikers on the 1990s, and is Croatia's all-time leading scorer with 45 goals in 69 games.

Suker is one of a only a handful of players to play for more than one nation at full international level, as he made two appearances for Yugoslavia before Croatia became independent, scoring one goal.

In March 2004, he was named by Pele as one of the 125 greatest living footballers and was the only Croatian player to be added to the list.

Have a look at this moment from Euro 96 when he tries to lob Peter Schmeichel from the half way line. Cheeky.

More blasts from the football past tomorrow when you can find out who is rated by the Italians as the best ever foreigner to play in Serie A.

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