Croatia legend Mario Mandzukic hangs up his boots at the age of 35… with the former Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus forward bowing out with a cheeky dig at England after THAT World Cup strike
- Mario Mandzukic’s extra-time winner stopped England reached the 2018 final
- The forward scored 261 goals in 671 appearances during a glittering career
- Mandzukic secured league titles at both Bayern Munich and Juventus
- He also contributed to Croatia’s best-ever tournament – despite defeat to France
Mario Mandzukic has announced his retirement from professional football – and aimed a cheeky parting shot at England.
The 35-year-old played 11 times for AC Milan last season without scoring and has taken the decision to hang up his boots despite receiving two offers to continue playing in the last few weeks following his release by the Rossoneri, according to Fabrizio Romano.
Delivering a message to his younger self, Mandzukic posted on Instagram to confirm the news.
Mario Mandzukic has hung up his boots after a glittering club and international career
The 35-year-old aimed a cheeky dig at England in his retirement post after his World Cup strike
His 109th-minute strike means England are still waiting for a first World Cup final since 1966
Talking about how he couldn’t believe what he had gone on to achieve in the sport from playing on the biggest stages at club level to making history with Croatia, he said he gave his best and had no regrets, ending his message with a reference to that 2018 World Cup semi-final strike: ‘P.S. If you happen to play vs England in the World Cup, just be ready around 109th minute’.
Mandzukic made his debut for Croatian side Marsonia in 2004 before really making his name at giants Dinamo Zagreb a few years later, finishing as the top flight’s top scorer in 2008-09 as part of a title-winning side as the team defended their crown the following year.
Mandzukic’s form earned him a move to Wolfsburg, where he enjoyed two solid if unspectacular years before a plumb transfer, where he finished as the club’s top scorer in two campaigns at the Allianz Arena in which he won an incredible eight trophies, including two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League.
After being dropped by Pep Guardiola for the 2014 German Cup final, Mandzukic revealed that he wanted to leave the club and said that the Spaniard’s style ‘simply does not fit’ with his own.
Atletico Madrid was his next destination, although Mandzukic again moved on quickly – this time after just a season – despite again finishing top of his side’s goalscoring charts with 20 and scoring what proved to the winner in the Spanish Super Cup against arch-rivals Real Madrid.
What followed was his longest stint at one club, Juventus, although his role under Massimiliano Allegri was not that of chief goal-getter, as the likes of Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and latterly Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines in Turin. He did though score a memorable overhead kick in the 2017 Champions League final that earned him the UEFA Goal of the Season award.
Nevertheless, he won four Serie A crowns and three Coppa Italia titles before swapping Europe for Asia as Qatar came calling, although he scored just twice in 10 games for Al-Duhail before one last hurrah with Milan.
Mandzukic is best known in England for breaking hearts with that winner at the Luzhniki Stadium.
The tall striker also netted a consolation in the final as France won 4-2 in Moscow, with Croatia achieving their best-ever finish at a major tournament.
A month after the match, he retired from international football as the country’s second-highest goalscorer with 33 goals after Davor Suker.
After his latest retirement announcement on Instagram, a host of top sportspeople paid tribute to Mandzukic, including former Juve team-mates Giorgio Chiellini and Patrice Evra and former US Open winner and compatriot Marin Cilic