Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic has announced his retirement at the age of 35 from football. He has played for elite clubs such as Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus where he was a very reliable presence in the attack.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 3, 2021
His youth career started in Germany, as his parents moved out of Croatia due to the Croatian War of Independence and the conflict around it. He first played for TSF Ditzengen, near Stuttgart. He moved to Croatia later and played for NK Marsonia, NK Željezničar and NK Zagreb.
In 2007, he moved to Dinamo Zagreb and played as a second striker and scored 63 goals in 128 matches. He won three Prva HNL trophies and two Croatian Football Cups.
He was transferred to Bundesliga club, Wolfsburg in the summer of 2010. He mostly played as a substitute with Edin Dzeko being the team’s main striker. With the latter’s departure to City, he became the main striker under Felix Magath. He scored 20 goals in 56 appearances and became a fan favourite due to his ability and attitude.
Bayern Munich bought him in 2012. He became a reliable 20 goal striker for the club in the two seasons he was them. He won Bayern’s first treble in 2013. He scored important goals in the Champions League with his goal in the quarter-final against Juventus and his goal against Borussia Dortmund in the final to be the most crucial ones among them.
His second season was good but not great as he did not fit into the new manager, Pep Guardiola’s system. He left Bayern and joined Atletico Madrid in 2014. He netted the winner in the Supercopa de Espana against Real Madrid to lead the Los Rojiblancos to win the cup. He scored 20 goals in 43 appearances and lived up to his image of a hard-working striker. He left Atletico for Juventus in 2015 and won four Serie A titles with them, scoring 44 goals in 162 appearances. He left the club in 2019 to go to Al- Duhail. His last club was AC Milan where he made just ten appearances.
For Croatia, he scored 33 goals in 89 appearances. He was an important part of the Golden Generation of Croatia. He helped them get to the finals of the 2018 World Cup, scoring important goals in the Round of 16 matches against Denmark and the winner in the semi-finals against England.
In addition to his goalscoring, experts have noted Mandžukić for his physical strength, versatility, mobility and fitness, as well as his ability in the air. He was known to be a hard-working player under Simeone, being the first to press the defence.
He was known as “Super Mario” by fans and loved by all the teams he played in because of his attitude and the ability he showcased throughout his career. A player of his stature will be missed in football.