Socceroo Legend Skoko Announces Retirement

Melbourne Heart FC midfielder Josip Skoko has confirmed he will retire from professional football at the end of the current Hyundai A-League season.

Melbourne Heart FC midfielder Josip Skoko has confirmed he will retire from professional football at the end of the current Hyundai A-League season.

A Socceroo legend, Skoko was one of the outstanding members of Australian football-s famed Golden Generation, scoring nine goals in 51 senior appearances across a decade-long Socceroo career.

Head Coach John van ‘t Schip said: “While I only coached Josip for a year, in that time, I have understood why he has had such a great career. He-s a real professional, he loves football, and he-s a purist.

“He still enjoys playing and I think that-s the main reason why he still at this age is performing at a high level. Josip is a player who has grown as a person in the game; he experienced a number of different types of cultures, playing in Belgium, Croatia, Turkey and England.

“And you can see he brought this experience with him to our club, and especially for the young boys, he was a very good example to show what it means to be a professional football player.”

After a successful farewell season in Australia, Skoko feels the time is right to call time on his 16-year professional career.

Skoko said: “I-ve decided to call it a day at the end of the season due to a combination of factors from old age to family reasons. Putting it all together, I feel like it is the right time to end my professional career and move on.

“I-ve always said that I don-t want to find myself in a position where I can-t be giving it my best every week, and I feel that while I-m still contributing and playing some good football, it-s time to hang up the boots.”

Earning selection for five major international tournaments, including the 2000 Olympics and 2006 World Cup, Skoko-s undoubted leadership qualities saw him named Socceroo Captain on four occasions, making him one of only 40 players to receive the honour more than once.

However, the 35-year-old ensured his name will be firmly enshrined into the annals of Australian football folklore with one of the most stunning strikes in Socceroo history, launching a long-range half-volley against Greece in front of 95,000 fans at the MCG in 2006 to send Australia off to the World Cup in style.

Skoko also carved a remarkable career at club level, plying his trade in Belgium, Croatia, Turkey and most memorably England-s Premier League with Wigan Athletic, making 53 first team appearances across three seasons in the world-s leading domestic competition.

Among the highlights of Skoko-s domestic career included captaining Genk during the side-s 1999/00 UEFA Champions League campaign, which included a match-up at the Santiago Bernabeu against the biggest club in world football, Real Madrid.