David O’Leary’s search for an experienced target man to compliment his young strikeforce ended in the summer of 2000 with the £6 million purchase of an Australian international of Croatian descent, Marco Viduka from Celtic.
A prolific goalscorer in Scotland, Viduka took only a few games to settle at Elland Road, scoring 22 goals in all competitions, including a four-goal performance in the memorable 4-3 victory over Liverpool.
Strong both in the air and incredibly skilful on the ball for a big man, Viduka’s contribution to United’s Champions League campaign trebled his value, with the cream of Europe’s clubs asking about his availability.
His second season mirrored that of the team, with high expectations leading to ultimate disappointment, though Viduka did boost his goal tally late on to finish top scorer again.
His consistency and fitness were questioned by some, and his future with the club was never 100 per cent clear, after fallouts with ex-boss Peter Reid.
“The Duke” signed for Middlesbrough following United’s relegation from the top flight, where he continues to score goals.
Strange but true: Croatia’s president personally persuaded Viduka to join the country’s premier club, Croatia Zagreb, from Melbourne in 1995.