42 days to go: Josip Skoko’s FIFA World Cup story

There’s just seven weeks to go until the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and as part of our countdown to the tournament in Russia, we are profiling every Australian player who's been to a World Cup.

Today we look back at the career of Josip Skoko, a classy midfielder who was part of the drought-breaking squad that went to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

READ: FIFA World Cup: Countdown for the Caltex Socceroos

Cap number: 429

World Cups played at: 2006

Position: Midfielder

Age at World Cup: 30 (now aged 42)

Clubs played for:

North Geelong Warriors, Hajduk Split, Genk, Genclerbirligi, Wigan Athletic, Stoke City, Melbourne Heart

Best World Cup moment:

Skoko was on the bench for all four matches at the ’06 tournament, including the memorable win over Japan in the first group match in Kaiserslautern.

But with so much midfield talent in the Australian side, he wasn’t able to get on the pitch for any of the four matches.

Josip Skoko up against Argentina superstar Lionel Messi.
Josip Skoko up against Argentina superstar Lionel Messi.

Career highlight:

Skoko was on the pitch when the Caltex Socceroos beat Uruguay in that famous penalty-shootout in 2005, which sent Australia to the World Cup.

In the farewell match in Melbourne just before the ’06 tournament, Skoko scored a cracking volley from 25 metres out in a 1-0 friendly win over Greece in front of more than 95,000 fans at the MCG.

At club level, he was part of a Genk side that won the Championship in 2001/02 and the Cup in 1999/2000, while he also won a Croatian Cup with Hajduk Split in 2010.

Post-playing career:

Skoko did some coaching with young kids at his first club, North Geelong Warriors, as helping out at the club as football operations manager. He was also a coffee distributor in Australia for Austrian brand Julius Meinl.

Did you know?

Skoko captained his Belgian club Genk in a UEFA Champions League game against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. He also captained the Caltex Socceroos four times.