Over the years Euros have produced many magical moments for us. When one talks of special goals at Euros, they will definitely bring up Davor Suker and his fantastic lob against Denmark at Euro 1996. The Euro 96 held in England had many special moments.
Few include Paul Gascoigne’s outrageous goal and celebration against Scotland, Gareth Southgate’s extraordinary penalty miss in semis, Football coming home to England and Davor Suker’s sensational goal.
With Euro 2020 fast approaching let us take a walk down the memory lane to revisit the Superb Davor Suker at the 96 Euro.
The Croatian striker was considered one of the best strikers in La Liga during his playing days in the 1990s. Hailing from Osijek, Suker turned pro only at 16 years of age. His quick development earned him a move to Zagreb in 1989. Though he had two excellent seasons at the Croatian capital, the Independence war in the country cut his playing days short and he moved on to Spain in 1991.
It was in Seville that Suker truly exploded in terms of goal scoring. A 6-foot tall striker, Suker had pace, strength and the predatory instincts that made him a top-class striker. He had a steady first season in 1991/92 with 6 goals.
Davor Šuker and Diego Maradona. pic.twitter.com/2pNzr9ZiEB
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) April 28, 2020
The following season saw, Diego Maradona, the Argentine legend arrive at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan from Napoli. Suker who idolized Maradona was thrilled to share dressing room with him. Naturally, the Argentine helped the striker to realize his fullest potential. Suker scored 13 goals in that season along side Maradona. He developed into a dead ball expert with swerving freekicks and was reknowned for wide range of finishes of which chip shot was the most famous.
He followed it up with 58 goals in the next two seasons and also played a pivotal role in Croatia’s qualification for the 1996 Euros.
SUKER AT EURO 1996
Davor Suker was in prime form for club and country. His stock was already rising and he hoped to use the Euros to rise to prominence on the world stage.
The 1996 Euro marked the debut for Croatia in a major tournament after their independence. Pitted in a group with the unlikey defending champions Denmark, Portugal and Turkey, there were no expectations. But the Croats punched above their weight and qualified to the quarters with 6 points behind Portugal as runner ups.
Suker played a key role in the qualification as he scored 2 goals in the group stages. He was quiet in the first game as they won 1-0 against Turkey. The magical moment came in the second game against Denmark.
THE MAGIC MOMENT
Needing a win to be in the hunt for qualification, Croatia finished the first half level with the Danes at 0-0. Suker opened the scoring from the spot as he converted a 54th minute penalty. The lead was doubled when Zvonimir Boban scored in the 81st minute. The magical moment finally arrived in the 90th minute.
— Ladbrokes (@Ladbrokes) July 1, 2018
Almost on the brink of elimination, the Danes were desperate to reduce the deficit late in the game. Goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel ventured forward for a corner to help his side. The corner failed to click and the Croats won the ball and pushed upfield to kill the game. Aljosa Asanovic played a long diagonal to the left from his own half as they tried to catch a back-peddling Schmeichel. Suker was on the receiving end of it on the left flank, he dragged the ball into his stride with a neat touch with his right foot. He charged towards the goal and saw an onrushing Schmeichel cut off his angle. Suker had a calm head and did what he does best. He shifted the ball and produced a sumptuous chip with his left foot to lift it over the keeper. As soon as the ball left his boot, Suker wheeled into celebration as the ball looped into the net.
Davor Suker's sublime chip for Croatia v Denmark & over Schmeichel at Euro 96. Love Schmeichel's reaction pic.twitter.com/iKiBq5g0od
— @forgottengoals (@forgottengoals) June 4, 2017
The goal sealed the win and the qualification for the Croats. Suker’s goal would go down as one of the best in the history of Euros.
Though Suker scored his 3rd goal at Euro 1996 in the quarters, he was unable to help his side as Germany dumped them out of the tournament by inflicting a 2-1 loss.
His performances at the Euros were duly noted and Real Madrid came knocking for his services. A move of €3.5 million was sealed in the summer of 1996 as part of a massive rebuild at Santiago Bernabeu. Suker scored 38 goals for the Los Blancos and was crowned with La Liga and Champions Legue titles during his 3-year stay.
It was sandwiched by an outstanding summer of 1998 when Suker went to the Worldcup with Croatia. His 6 goals propelled the Croats to a 3rd placed finish at the tournament. He ended up winning the Golden Boot and the Silver Ball at the tournament. He also finished as the Ballon d’Or runner-up in 1998 behind Zinedine Zidane.
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) December 26, 2019
In the latter stages of his career, Suker played in England and Germany before calling it a day in 2003. He is currently the President of the Croatian Football Federation and also runs a football academy.