Former Celtic striker Mark Viduka says he left his heart at Parkhead
Former Celtic striker Mark Viduka is living a charmed life nowadays.
Having returned to Croatia, where he began a long-lasting career in European football, the former striker now runs a coffee shop. Wimbledon champion Goran Ivansevic is a regular customer.
Living in idyllic surroundings, Viduka has talked to the Daily Mail at length about his successful, often controversial career.
The former Hoops hitman surprisingly returned home to Australia just days after signing for the club [BBC]. It seemed a bizarre way to conduct himself after making a significant transfer, and it led to a lot of misgivings from the Celtic support.
He did prove himself through goals, and plenty of them. But there were always concerns about his attitude at Celtic. Viduka, though, is having none of it. He told the Daily Mail:
“A lot of people labelled me, and maybe that’s where the perception comes from. But I went through hell here in Zagreb. I told Celtic, “I’m mentally f*****. I need a break. I don’t want to come and hide and take the money”. I was honest with myself and with them. But it backfires.
“I worked my a**e off at Celtic. The club was in turmoil but I was top scorer and player of the year. I really left my heart there. I refuse to accept it when someone says otherwise.”
Mark Viduka refuses to accept criticism from time at Celtic
In fairness to Viduka, the situation in Croatia prior to his Celtic arrival was traumatic. In the same interview, Viduka described fighter jets flying overhead while he was training with Dinamo Zagreb. With the Balkans in turmoil following the break-up of Yugoslavia, Viduka was young, away from home and now, he’d been signed by a massive club.
With all that going on, you’d probably want some home comforts.
It’s not as if Viduka let us down in any significant way. During his time at Celtic, there was upheaval of a different kind.
The John Barnes experiment at the club profoundly didn’t work, and despite scoring a barrel-load of goals, enough was enough.
Martin O’Neill tried to convince him to stay, but the club received £6m from Leeds United, which helped to fund a massive summer spend under new management. A treble followed.
His is still a name with a polarising quality amongst the Celtic support. But Viduka himself is under no doubts about the effort he put in for us.