Mark Viduka inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame

16 Nov 2021 11:48 am, by YorkshireSquare

Former Leeds United striker Mark Viduka has been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as part of their Class of 2021. Viduka was one of Australia’s finest soccer players, captaining the Socceroos at the 2006 World Cup, the only time they have progressed to the second round. He played for Australia 43 times scoring 11 goals.

But Leeds fans will remember him for his goal scoring exploits in the white shirt of Leeds United and particularly a certain game against Liverpool back in 2000. Viduka had scored goals everywhere he had been before David O’Leary signed the Australian for £6m but United had just finished third in the Premier League to secure a Champions League qualifying spot and it remained to be seen whether he could cut it at that level, after all his goals had come at an inferior standard of football in Oz, Croatia and Scotland.

Viduka’s inaugural season went pretty well on the league front as well as he was top scorer for the club with 17 goals, which helped his team to a fourth place finish. It was expected that Viduka and fellow Australian Harry Kewell would combine with Michael Bridges to form a deadly offensive trio but, sadly, the physios spent more time with the latter two and Viduka instead hit it off with Alan Smith. The first time they both appeared on the score sheet together was on 30th September 2000 in a 4-3 victory over Tottenham where the pair grabbed a brace each and

Just six weeks later the Elland Road faithful were treated to the highlight of the league campaign, this time the enthralling 4-3 defeat of Liverpool who had taken a two goal lead. Viduka scored all four in a performance that showed every single one of his attributes and, on reflection, it was probably the best display of his entire career – let alone for us. Leeds were staring defeat in the face after ex-skipper Gary McAllister pulled the strings early on for the Reds but Viduka had different ideas; the first of his goals was a clever dink after Smith charged down a Christian Ziege clearance whilst the second was a thumping header after a pinpoint cross from the marauding Gary Kelly.

Viduka completed his first hat-trick for Leeds when he received the ball from Oliver Dacourt with his back to goal before showing great strength and control to twist and turn away from two Liverpool defenders and, after buying himself half a yard, he unleashed a smart finish across goal and in off the post. The home crowd was buzzing and just two minutes later the roof came off when Viduka bagged the best of his four; he showed an instinctive touch to capitalise on a miscued shot from Dacourt and delicately chipped the ball over the rapidly advancing Sander Westerveld to secure maximum points.

Why not read the behind the scenes story in Ups And Downs: The Inside Stories From Leeds United's Biggest Matches by James Willoughby. Featuring more than 70 exclusive interviews with former Leeds United players and coaches, the likes of Eddie Gray, Johnny Giles, Howard Wilkinson, Gary McAllister, Lucas Radebe, Simon Grayson and Jermaine Beckford talk through the matches supporters will never forget with a host of rarely told stories. Despite what you may think Viduka didn’t have the best preparation for the Liverpool game!

It was Guy Fawkes Night [and] my wife was by herself at home with the dog … the dog kept barking all night and she was scared … she rings me up at three o’clock … and I go, ‘She will be alright’. At five o’clock in the morning, again, she rings me up and she goes, ‘Tara is barking, I’m scared’. And I go, ‘You know what? If I have a shocker tomorrow!’
- Mark Viduka