WFI‘s Adam Brandon counts down to Russia 2018 with 90 World Cup goals in 90 days, scored in the minute corresponding to the day in the countdown.
Having gained independence just a mere seven years earlier (joining FIFA a year later), Croatian football didn’t take long to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with.
They were blessed with a ready-to-go golden generation as Croats were an integral part of the Yugoslavia U20 side that took the World Youth Championships (now the U20 World Cup) in Chile by storm in 1987.
A promising showing at Euro 96, where they beat Denmark and Turkey on their way to a quarter final defeat to Germany, provided the platform for a successful World Cup qualifying campaign that concluded with a fairly comfortable play-off win against Ukraine.
They headed into France 98 optimistic of getting out their group.
They lost to Argentina, but wins against Japan, Jamaica and then Romania saw them through to the quarter finals where they faced European Champions Germany and a chance to revenge the defeat two years earlier.
The match looked set to be quite tight until Germany found themselves down to 10 men – Christian Wörns was sent off in the 40th minute.
Croatia made full use of their man advantage, working the ball and the Germans for the fifty minutes that followed.
Roberto Jarni scored just before half-time, Goran Vlaovic added a second, and the Golden Boot winner of France ’98 was to have the final say…
In the 85th minute with the game already beyond the tired and ageing Germans, the ball found its way to Davor Suker in the box…
What Happened Next?
Croatia went on to lose a close semi-final against hosts and eventual champions France, but they did claim third place with a win against Netherlands.
It is a result they have yet to better. This fiercely proud nation have continued to produce world class talent throughout the years, and continue to claim major scalps on their way to, or in, major tournaments.
Suker continued to score goals for Real Madrid and Croatia before a move to Arsenal in 1999 where he was mostly used as a sub for one season.
He retired from international football in 2002 with an impressive record of 45 goals in 69 games.
During Euro 2016, Slaven Bilić reminds Lothar Matthäus of the score in the 1998 World Cup.