Viduka plans Croatia orphanage
By Petr Kogoy
November 14, 2003
MARK VIDUKA says Australia is still the lucky country.
Melbourne-born Viduka's next goal is to establish an orphanage in Croatia, to help house displaced kids following the years of internal conflict following the break-up of Tito's Yugoslavia.
The third of five children, Viduka has four sisters. He was born at Footscray but raised at St Albans, in Melbourne's outer west.
A product of the Melbourne Croatia (Knights) junior ranks, the striker spent three seasons in the National Soccer League before heading overseas in 1995.
Viduka spent the next four seasons with Croatia Zagreb before moving to Britain, signing with Glasgow Celtic in 1998 where his 30 goals in 37 games caught the eye of then Leeds manager David O'Leary.
It was O'Leary who gambled on the big Australian by paying Celtic $14 million on today's exchange rate, to get him to move to the west Yorkshire club.
"I love Australia," Viduka said. "It is a rich country. I love playing for the Socceroos, but there's not much money in Croatia.
"You have to go there to see the number of kids left without parents and fending for themselves since the war ended. "I get paid well. I want to use some of this money for what I believe is a worthwhile cause." Other projects on Viduka's agenda include investing in Croatia's burgeoning tourism industry. He sees Croatia's Adriatic coastline as potential for massive growth. "Tourism brings a lot of foreigners to the country," Viduka said. "I'm looking at maybe building a hotel or getting someone to build for me a cruise boat which would sail the many islands found off the Dalmatian coast."