Four years after sending the Qantas Socceroos to the FIFA World Cup in style with a stunning long range strike against Greece, Josip Skoko is set to return to Australia after signing for Hyundai A-League debutante Melbourne Heart FC.
Skoko, 34, returns to Victoria following a decorated 15-year professional career completed entirely within the confines of Europe, a testament to his longevity and undoubted quality.
Head Coach John van ‘t Schip has hailed Skoko’s capture, saying it marked a major milestone for the club.
“To be able to entice a player of Josip’s quality back to Australia is a real sign of the momentum Melbourne Heart FC has built over the last few months,” he said.
“Josip is a wonderful footballer. He is perfectly suited to the collective football we want to play and the professionalism we want to show. He is a winner, but most importantly, a winner who is known for his sportsmanship.
“Watching Josip play in Europe over the Christmas break reinforced my belief in his ability to take our club to the level we need to be at, to be competitive from the first match of the season.”
A technically gifted central midfielder, Skoko has carved out his decorated career on the back of his superb on-ball ability, inch perfect passing, and his ability to turn defence to attack in an instant.
Scoring nine goals in 51 international appearances, Skoko has been at the centre of many of the Qantas Socceroos’ finest moments for a decade, earning selection for five major international tournaments, including the 2000 Olympic Games and 2006 FIFA World Cup.
However, the 34-year-old ensured his name will be firmly etched into the annals of Australian football folklore with his sublime long-range volley against Greece in 2006 to send Australia off to the FIFA World Cup in style.
In addition to his 51 Qantas Socceroo caps, Skoko also carved out a club career in Europe of rare success and consistency, playing over 350 top-flight matches in four countries, including over 50 English Premiership matches with Wigan Athletic.
Highlights include becoming the only Australian to score a hat-trick in European football with Hajduk Split, captaining Genk to the Belgian championship and leading the same side out to face Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League at the Santiago Bernebau.
The Geelong-native is the 17th player to sign for the Hyundai A-League newcomers, following fellow senior internationals Simon Colosimo, John Aloisi, Clint Bolton, Matt Thompson, Dean Heffernan, Michael Beauchamp and Kristian Sarkies, and youth internationals Michael Marrone , Jason Hoffman, Kliment Taseski, Brendan Hamill, Eli Babalj and Kamal Ibrahim.