June 11, 2023 – Croatia punches about its weight on the global football stage, and its players have left their mark in the English Premier League. Here are 10 of the most successful Croatian players to grace the premier English stage. Do you agree?
Croatia has produced some of the finest footballers in the world, and many of them have graced the Premier League with their skills, flair and passion. A look at 10 of the most successful Croatian players in the history of the English top-flight, based on their appearances, goals, trophies and impact.
The versatile defender joined Manchester City in 2007 as one of their first big signings after Thaksin Shinawatra’s takeover. He impressed with his strength, speed and composure on the ball, and earned a move to Tottenham Hotspur a year later. He spent five seasons at White Hart Lane, helping Spurs reach the Champions League for the first time and becoming a fan favourite. He later moved to Lokomotiv Moscow in 2012, where he eventually retired in 2021.
Niko Kranjcar was a skilful and versatile midfielder who could play on either wing or behind the striker. He joined Portsmouth from Hajduk Split in 2006 and became a key player for Pompey, scoring some memorable goals and winning the FA Cup in 2008. He followed his manager Harry Redknapp to Tottenham Hotspur in 2009 and continued to impress with his flair, creativity, and long-range shooting. He also played for Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League in 2014/15, but he could not prevent their relegation. He scored 24 goals in 154 Premier League games.
The powerful striker made his name at Rangers, where he scored 36 goals in 54 games and won three trophies. He joined Everton in 2012 and continued his prolific form, scoring nine goals in his first 13 games and winning the Premier League Player of the Month award in April. He also had spells at Hull City and West Ham United, where he helped them avoid relegation with his aerial prowess and clinical finishing.
The talented midfielder started his career at Dinamo Zagreb, where he won four league titles and two cups. He moved to Inter Milan in 2013 and then to Real Madrid in 2015, where he won three Champions League titles and two La Liga titles. He joined Chelsea on loan in 2018 and made his move permanent a year later. He has become a key player for the Blues with his vision, passing and creativity. He was voted Chelsea Fans’ Player of the Year for the 2019/20 season.
The charismatic centre-back was one of the first Croatian players to play in the Premier League, joining West Ham United in 1996. He was a leader on and off the pitch, forming a solid partnership with Rio Ferdinand and earning respect from fans and teammates alike. He also played for Everton before retiring in 2001. He later became a successful manager, leading Croatia to Euro 2008 quarter-finals and West Ham to their best Premier League finish in 2016.
The skilful winger joined Chelsea in 2000 from Parma and made an instant impact with a stunning goal on his debut against West Ham United. He scored four goals in his first three games and became a cult hero at Stamford Bridge. He was also a versatile player who could play as a striker or an attacking midfielder. He won two FA Cups and one Charity Shield with Chelsea before retiring in 2004 due to injury problems.
The tough-tackling defender was another pioneer of Croatian football in England, joining Derby County in 1995. He was a key player for the Rams, helping them win promotion to the Premier League in his first season and establish themselves as a top-flight club. He was also a vocal leader who inspired his teammates with his passion and commitment. He later played for West Ham United before becoming a manager.
The legendary striker was one of the best goalscorers of his generation, winning the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup with six goals and leading Croatia to third place. He joined Arsenal in 1999 from Real Madrid and scored 11 goals in his first season, including a hat-trick against Leicester City. He also won the FA Cup and the Charity Shield with the Gunners before moving to West Ham United in 2000.
The imposing centre-back joined Southampton in 2013 from Lyon and quickly established himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League with his aerial dominance, physicality and anticipation. He earned a move to Liverpool in 2014 and became a key part of their defence under Jurgen Klopp. He won the Champions League, the Premier League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup with the Reds before joining Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2020.
The maestro midfielder joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 from Dinamo Zagreb and became one of the best players in the Premier League with his sublime skills, vision and work rate. He was the heartbeat of Spurs’ midfield, creating chances, scoring goals and dictating the tempo of the game. He also won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2011 and was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice. He moved to Real Madrid in 2012 and has since won four Champions League titles, two La Liga titles and the Ballon d’Or in 2018.