We touched upon this in our latest Schmankerl, but felt that this man deserved a proper tribute. Croatian legend Mario Mandžukić has officially announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 35.
After making his professional debut in 2007, he spent five years in Zagreb and Wolfsburg before he made the biggest move of his career, transferring to Bayern Munich. He scored on his debut for FC Bayern in the DFL Super Cup, winning the trophy as well. He went on to score 22 goals in 40 games in his first season, and enjoyed immense success in the Bavarian capital, winning the continental treble.
Of course, many Bayern fans will remember that fateful night in Wembley, when he turned in a chipped ball from Arjen Robben to open the scoring for Bayern in the Champions League final. As every Bayern fan knows, Die Roten went on to win the European Cup via a last minute goal from Robben, and Mandžukić played a crucial role in Bayern’s triumph.
His second season at Bayern wasn’t as fruitful as his first in terms of trophies, but Mandžukić scored more goals - 26 in 48 games - as his team won the domestic double. He subsequently left Munich for Atletico Madrid and Juventus, and he finished off his career with brief stints in Qatar and Milan.
Now, Mandžukić’s career would be incomplete without touching on his performances in his national colors. The pinnacle of his international career came in 2018, when he scored thrice in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, leading them to their first ever World Cup final.
Mandžukić was not the most prolific striker out there, but he was always a hard working striker. He could play anywhere in attack, and even found his hand as a winger later on. His link-up play was quite something else, and he would also defend hard even though he was a striker. There’s a reason that both Bayern and Croatia enjoyed success with him around, and it was a privilege to have him play in Munich.
We at BFW fondly remember Super Mario’s days in Bayern red, and wish him a blissful retirement!