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David Allen Zdrilic ( ; born 13 April 1974 in Sydneymarker) is an Croatian Australian football player. He is currently playing for Sydney United in the NSW Premier League. He previously played for in the A-League and has also played in Switzerlandmarker, Germanymarker, Englandmarker and Scotlandmarker. He has played on thirty occasions for the Australian national team, having once scored eight goals in a single match - the second highest recorded for any Australian player.

Playing career

Early years

Zdrilic represented his high school Patrician Brothers' Collegemarker during his time as a teenage schoolboy and featured prominently in all teams including the A Grade squad. He had to opportunity as a child to pursue a tennis career, receiving coaching and playing in tournaments, but chose football instead. After playing through the youth ranks for St George Saints he broke into the senior side in 1993 at the age of 19. Mid-way through the NSW Super League year he signed to Sydney United for the coming National Soccer League season. He made an immediate impact shortly after joining the club, scoring four goals in four games in a preseason cup competition. However, this form didn't keep him in the attack, playing much of his first NSL season in the backline, and netting only once for the year. Zdrilic's performances improved through the 1994/95 and 1995/96 seasons, more often among the goal scorers and a regular first team selection. During this time he also studied a law degree at Sydney University. It was not until the 1996/97 NSL season that his footballing career rose to the next level.

Zdrilic's first call-up to the national team came in January 1997. After the appointment of Terry Venables as the new Socceroos coach, Australia hosted the Optus Cup a four-team tournament including an Australian squad of domestic-based players. In forming the squad, Venables had asked "who's the leading scorer in the NSL?", the answer being Zdrilic (having scored 12 goals in as many games), and he played all three matches. He continued his scoring ways in the NSL to win the Golden Boot for that season with 21 goals, United topping the table before losing the grand final to Brisbane.

In Europe

His position atop the Australian league attracted attention in Europe, particularly in Switzerlandmarker with an offer to join Grasshoppers accepted, before later signing to FC Aarau. After a season at Aarau he moved to Germanmarker side SSV Ulm 1846, newly promoted to the second division. Ulm's strong 98-99 season with Zdrilic a regular starter saw them promoted again into the Bundesliga, the clubs first appearance in the top flight.

Now playing in a top European league, albeit for a struggling side, earned a recall to national side in early 2000 for a tournament in Chilemarker. He again rejoined the side in June as Australia hosted a three match series against Paraguay, which he scored his first international goal in a 2-1 win. Zdrilic remained with the side for the 2000 OFC Nations Cup, adding to his goal tally twice against Cook Islands.

Returning to club duties, Ulm had been relegated back to the second division and Zdrilic sought to remain in the top league, moving to Unterhaching. The club struggled for consistency through the 2000-01 season and was eventually relegated, Zdrilic remaining with the club on its return to 2.Bundesliga. Haching continued to struggle for results in the 01-02 season, relegated again at the end of the year. In contrast to club fortunes, Zdrilic was achieving greater success at international level throughout this time. Becoming a regular inclusion in an Australian side under Frank Farina, he was recalled for a friendly against Scotlandmarker and retained his place in the squad for the Oceania World Cup qualifiers. In Australia's second match of the tournament, he scored eight goals in a world record 31–0 win over American Samoa. He and his strike partner Archie Thompson, who scored 13 goals, broke the record for most goals scored in a senior international match. He remained in the team for the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, taking part in the Socceroos memorable victories over Mexico and Brazil.

With Unterhaching in financial trouble, Zdrilic gain a release and signed on to English First Division side Walsall, where he was soon joined by fellow Australian Steve Corica. In a season restricted by a calf injury, he made 29 appearances in the league and cup (mostly off the bench) scoring five goals including the only goal against Wimbledon F.C. in the FA Cup fourth round. In May 2003 he parted from the club and after interest from other English sides and Norwegianmarker side S.K. Brann, he signed to Scottish Premier League club Aberdeen on a one year deal, making an immediate impact with a goal 80 seconds into his debut in a pre-season friendly. His scoring rate didn't continue, netting only four times that year and falling out of favour with manager Steve Paterson, and being released by Aberdeen in May 2004. Zdrilic was particularly critical of Paterson after his departure, saying "I didn't enjoy my time at Aberdeen. It was a wasted year in my life and Steve Paterson was responsible." After being linked with Belgianmarker clubs Lierse S.K. and K.A.A. Gent, and also 1860 Munich, he returned to 2nd Bundesliga at Eintracht Trier.

While facing difficulties at Aberdeen, his elevation back to the top flight of a European league returned him to national team contention. He was selected for a number of friendly matches and rejoined the squad in May for the 2004 OFC Nations Cup, which also doubled as qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. After a goal against Tahiti, he made two more appearances against Fiji and Vanuatu, but was dropped from the squad in October for final qualifiers against Solomon Islands.

Return to Australia

His stay at Trier was short-lived, and returned to Australia with the launch of the A-League in 2005 to be part of the inaugural Sydney FC squad, signing a three-year deal. Now back in Australia, he was included in a Socceroos side for a match on 29 March 2005 against Indonesia to benefit victims of the Boxing Day tsunamimarker, scoring Australia's third goal in what many have tipped as his last international match. He took part in 19 of Sydney's matches in their first season, but only found the net once. n the second season he found more game time under Terry Butcher, scoring four goals from 20 appearances.

In Sydney's second salary cap dilemma in 2006, investigations surrounded Zdrilic's salary as a contributor to breaking the cap. A $50,000 invoice surfaced for services that were never rendered, linked to Zdrilic but with all parties denying knowledge. The FFA penalised Sydney three competition points and imposed a AU$129,000 fine for the breach in player payment rules.

Zdrilic remained at Sydney for the A-League 2007-08 season, in the final year of his original three-year contract. A number of matches saw him being deployed in the backline, partly due to squandering scoring opportunities when up front. Many Sydney FC fans became critical of his performances, after netting just five goals in his first two years at the club. Despite his clear intentions to add to his tally in the 2007-08 season, Zdrilic failed to score in any competitive matches all year and was released by Sydney at the end of the season.

The end of his stay with Sydney FC effectively marked the end of his career. Post Sydney FC, David is working as a football pundit for both Fox Sports News Channel and ESPN Sportscenter in Australia as well as writing a column for mX.

In 2009, David signed with his former club Sydney United who play in the NSW Premier League. He is also currently coaching the Maccabi All-Age One (AA1) football side.


With Australia: With Sydney FC: Personal Honours:


  1. OzFootball - 1993/94 Multiquip Preseason Tournament
  2. OzFootball - Socceroo 1997 Matches
  3. OzFootball - Socceroo 2000 Matches

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