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Strok scoring against Aberdeen.
|Full name||Ivica Strok|
|Date of birth||October 20, 2001|
|Place of birth||Zagreb, Croatia|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.|
† Appearances (Goals).
Ivica Strok CBE (born 20 October 2001) is a Croatian retired footballer. He played as a striker in the top level of Scottish league football for Celtic and for the Croatia national team. He was widely regarded as one of the world's best strikers, being both Celtic's and the Scottish Premiership's record goalscorer.
He became known for his classic style of play, strength and goalscoring ability; his goals helped Celtic win the Scottish Premiership title on 23 ocassions, the Scottish Cup on 13 occasions, the Scottish League Cup on 18 occasions and the Champions League on 4 occasions. He finished as the Scottish Premiership top goalscorer 17 times, helping him secure the European Golden Shoe in six different years. In 2032, Strok helped Croatia win the UEFA European Championship and finished second in the voting for the Ballon d'Or the same year missing out to Manchester City's Doni Traynor. Strok scored 702 league goals in his career, including a record 683 in the Scottish Premiership, and a total of 1,016 in all competitions including international at all levels. Strok has amassed a goals to game ratio of 0.889 throughout his career at every level.
After being overlooked for Croatia's captaincy, Strok retired from international football following in 2037 having amassed 194 appearances and 152 goals for his country making him the record goalscorer in international football history. Outside football, he has helped raise money and awareness for suicide prevention charity CALM. He received an honourary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2046 and was made a Freeman of Glasgow in 2042. Strok also ran as a candidate for the Presidency of FIFA in 2048 but withdrew before the votes were cast.
Strok was born in Zagreb, in 2001. His father, Croatian footballer Hrvoje Štrok, encouraged a keen Strok to play football in his youth, and the young player continued with the sport as he progressed through school. Growing up playing on the streets of his hometown, he was signed to Zagreb's youth academy at a young age following recommendations from his father who played in midfield for the side. He excelled in the youth sides and at reserve level, scoring better than a goal a game, and was brought into the first team at the age of just 16 which made him Zagreb's youngest ever first team player.
Strok was promoted to the first team after spending just one full season with the youth team. He made his professional debut for Zagreb on 25 November 2017, coming on as a substitute in a Second Division fixture against Inter Zaprešić, before scoring on his full debut two weeks later against Slaven Belupo. This goal made him Zagreb's youngest ever goalscorer, he would score two further goals for the club in the 2017/2018 season playing mostly as a substitute.
Strok was expected to be first choice forward at Zagreb in the next season but a knee injury in a preseason friendly against Bosnian side Zrinjski Mostar saw him miss most of the season. He returned in the latter months of the season to score five goals in seven matches.
By 2019, Strok had made several appearances for the Croatia U21 side and scored 9 goals in 14 appearances. He also made his first appearance for the Croatian senior side, making his debut in a Euro 2020 qualifying match against Hungary.
Strok's reputation saw him linked with many of Europe's top clubs ahead of the 2019/2020 season, where Zagreb would compete in the top division following their promotion the previous year, but he stayed despite offers from Chelsea and Real Madrid amongst others. In the first half of the season, Strok scored 11 times in Zagreb's first 19 matches in the top tier of Croatian football leading to many sides returning to make further bids in the January transfer window. Scottish side Celtic agreed a £5.25million deal with Zagreb and Strok moved to Glasgow on 11th January 2020.
Strok joined Celtic in January 2020 with the club at the top of the Scottish Premiership and looking to secure their ninth title in a row, with Czech Republic international forward Marcel Kovar leading the club. Kovar would finish the season as top scorer with 31 goals, but Strok contributed 11 goals in his 19 games in the league.
In his first full season at Celtic Park Strok's 33 goals in all competitions helped the club win the Scottish Premiership, Scottish League Cup and the Europa League. Strok scored twice as Celtic beat Napoli 4-1 in the final at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul. In January 2021 Celtic also signed Cristiano Ronaldo on a free transfer following his release by Real Madrid, and Ronaldo offered to work one on one with Strok to further improve areas of his game such as his finishing, control and technique.
In the next season Strok overtook Marcel Kovar as Celtic's first choice goalscorer and netted 28 goals in the 35 games he played in the Scottish Premiership as the team won the title. Celtic also won their first European Cup since 1967 by beating Chelsea 2-0 in the final at Old Trafford, Strok scored the opening goal of the final before Portuguese international José Ribeiro added a second goal. Ribeiro's refusal to pass to Strok in the lead up to Celtic's second goal caused a falling out between the two players and resulted in the Portuguese leaving to join Newcastle United in 2024.
Strok suffered a knee injury which kept him out of much of the 2022/2023 season but he did manage to score 14 goals in 20 appearances in the Scottish Premiership and was also part of the team which beat São Paulo in the final of the Club World Cup.
Strok returned to fitness and was reinstated to Celtic's starting line up as they won a record breaking 55th league title, beating the previous record held by city rivals Rangers. Strok hit 36 goals in the 37 games he played for Celtic, leading him to win the first of three consecutive Golden Shoes as the top goalscorer in Europe's top divisions. However, Strok also found himself repremanded by Celtic after taking the microphone on the trophy parade for the Scottish Premiership and giving a speech which contained several expeltives directed at Rangers.
Strok's nex season was his most productive in the Scottish Premiership, breaking the record for the most goals scored in a single league season by finding the net 50 times in the 38 games he featured in, with Celtic once more winning the title.
After a record breaking season, Strok was the subject of a £30million offer from Barcelona which was turned down by the club. The £30million transfer would have been the highest transfer fee received by Celtic, breaking the then record fee of £16million received from the sale of Tony Watt to Arsenal in 2016.
The next five years saw Strok scoring regularly at a rate of over a goal every game he featured in; between the beginning of the 2025/2026 season and the end of the 2031/2032 season he scored 263 goals in 233 matches in the Scottish Premiership. During the 2031/2032 season, in a match against Hibernian in November, Strok scored his 399th league goal for Celtic to break the 94-year old record held by Jimmy McGrory.
The 2031/2032 season also saw Celtic lift their third Champions League trophy, with the club beating Valencia 2-1 in the final in Istanbul thanks to two goals from Mexico international Noé Rojas. However, Rojas would follow the path of José Ribeiro before him by falling out with Strok and being moved on to Norwich two years later.
Celtic again lifted the Club World Cup at the end of 2032, this time beating Flamengo in the final. A number of journalists and pundits believed that Strok would go on to win the 2032 Ballon d'Or, in part thanks to Croatia's victory at Euro 2032, but he was only awarded second place after England and Manchester City midfielder Doni Traynor was given the award. Strok was nominated for the Ballon d'Or on six occasions but being awarded second place in 2032 is the closest he would come to winning the prize.
Strok returned to Celtic for the 2032/2033 season with many believing that being overlooked for the Ballon d'Or and the extended summer by playing in the European Championships had a detrimental effect on his form as he scored just 25 goals in 29 games.
After a full preseason, Strok scored 40 times in the 36 games he played in the 2033/2034 season. Celtic also won their fourth, and Strok's third, Champions League title with a victory over Manchester United on penalties following a 1-1 draw. He did not start the match, with teammate Valentino Pirsic playing most European fixtures, but came on as a substitute to score the first penalty. In 2034, Celtic announced that a statue was to be built in honour of Strok outside Celtic Park. This was unveiled the same year with Celtic chairman Barry Carter stating “having a statue of a player still at the club outside the ground is unusual, but we wanted to show Ivica just what he means to the club, and to the fans”.
Celtic continued to dominate Scottish football, winning the title every season since 2012, and Strok continued his goalscoring dominance in the division in the 2034/2035 and 2035/2036 seasons by finding the net 59 times in 47 games. After spending five years as vice-captain, Strok was given the Celtic captaincy in January 2035 after Spain international defender Borja left to join Barcelona for £18million.
At the beginning of the 2035/2036 season, Valentino Pirsic left Celtic to join Barcelona for a record £23.5million deal but Strok remained second choice for European fixtures as Scotland international Alan García started matches in the Champions League. When Celtic won their fifth European Cup at the end of the 2036/2037 season, Strok did not make it off the bench as García scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Juventus. Again, Strok had a falling out with Alan García calling him the "most arrogant strike partner I've ever had the misfortune of playing with" shortly before García left to join Borussia Dortmund for £12million in 2040.
In August 2038 Celtic moved from Celtic Park, their home since 1892, to the new 99,237 capacity Sharples Park - their first competitive match at the stadium was a fixture against Morton, which the side won 4-0 with Strok scoring the first goal at their new home. Strok ended the 2038/2039 season scoring 23 goals in 30 matches.
By the time the 2039/2040 season started France international striker Mathias Mesnil, who joined Celtic on a free transfer from Caen in 2037, was first choice forward and Strok was back-up. Strok had opportunities to leave the club following this change in focus, with teams from Qatar Stars League and Major League Soccer offering him lucrative contracts to join them but he rejected them stating his intention to see out his career with Celtic and to help Mesnil develop into a complete striker.
In Strok's final three seasons at Celtic he scored 49 goals in 65 matches, playing mainly as a substitute as Mesnil cemented his place as Celtic's first choice striker. In Strok's final season at the club, on 5th February 2042, he scored a hat-trick against Motherwell to surpass 1000 goals in professional football.
Strok retired from professional football on 30th June 2042 at the age of 40, as a mark of respect Celtic retired his #10 shirt indefinitely. Strok's final total of goals scored for Celtic was 683 goals in 690 league goals and 836 goals in 903 appearances in all competitions, this makes him Celtic's record goalscorer and the record goalscorer in world football for the number of official goals scored for a single club.
Strok made 14 appearances for the Croatia U21 team and scored 9 goals.
In 2019, Strok made his debut for the full Croatia side as a second half substitute against Hungary in a Euro 2020. His first start for the side came in a friendly game against Italy in the same year, playing on the right of midfield - a position he played in many of his first games for the side.
Strok was taken to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where Croatia reached the quarter-final before being defeated by Portugal. However, Strok's individual performances saw him named Best Young Player at the tournament.
After Mario Mandžukić retired from international football following the tournament in Qatar, Strok moved from the right of midfield to be Croatia's first choice centre forward. In this role he excelled and found the net on a regular basis as the country regularly reached major tournaments but failed to perform in the tournaments themselves.
By 2032, Croatia had what many pundits believed to be a golden generation; their best group of players since the side that finished in third place at the 1998 World Cup, centred around the Celtic trio of Strok, Valentino Pirsic and Ivica Colic. The side went to Euro 2032 in Belgium as eighth favourites with many bookmakers, however an impressive 4-3 victory over Italy in their opening group game saw prices on the Croatian side to win the tournament slashed. Croatia scored four goals in both their remaining games against Slovakia and Switzerland. Single goal victories against Ukraine and Scotland in the next two rounds, the game against Scotland notable for Strok refusing to celebrate his winning goal, saw Croatia into the semi final.
Following the tournament in Belgium, Croatia captain Almir Sunjic retired from international football and Strok was expected to be appoined in his place. However, incoming manager Dinko Matosevic appointed Southampton defender Drazen Saric as the country's new captain. This saw relations between Strok and Matosevic strained, pushed further when the latter voted in favour of Doni Traynor to win the Ballon d'Or at the end of 2032.
Strok considered retiring from international football, but was discouraged from doing so by teammates Pirsic and Colic who advised him to fight for the captaincy with performances on the pitch.
Strok scored his 100th international goal in a World Cup qualifying match against Malta for the 2034 tournament in Japan. He then scored his 110th international goal in a friendly fixture against Mexico in March 2035 to break the record of 109 international goals, which had been held by Ali Daei since 2006.
Croatia qualified for the 2034 FIFA World Cup with ease and so many people expected the side to build on their victory at Euro 2032, potentially winning the tournament in Japan. Despite impressing in the early stages, Croatia were eventually knocked out the tournament on penalties in the semi final by the United States with Strok scoring the first kick of the shoot out. Croatia then defeated Ukraine in the third place playoff to match their achievements at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
The side were unable to retain the European Championship title at Euro 2036 in Portugal, where they were defeated in the second round by Switzerland.
Strok scored his 150th international goal on 24th March 2037 in a 5-0 victory over Bulgaria in a qualifying match for the 2038 FIFA World Cup, and he scored his 152nd and final international goal in October of the same year in a win over Israel. However at the end of 2037 when national captain Drazen Saric retired from football following an anterior cruciate ligament injury and Stuttgart midfielder Dario Mus was appointed in his place, Strok retired from international football with immediate effect. Strok cited his reasons for retirement as being continually overlooked for the captaincy. He believed this was because the Croatian Football Association had not forgiven him for leaving the country at the age of 18, as a result Strok has not returned to the country since retiring.
Strok ended his international career with 194 caps and 152 goals, making him the record appearance maker and goalscorer in Croatian history. He is also the leading goalscorer in all international football.
Career outside football
Following on from his retirement from football, Strok returned to his home in the Highlands where he spends his day shooting grouse. He has also appeared on various television channels as a pundit for their Champions League coverage. In 2048, Strok entered the running for the Presidency of FIFA stating that he believed the organisation needed a complete overhaul but he subsequently withdrew from the race citing that he considered there to be too much corruption involved in the election process.
Strok has done work in raising money and awareness for CALM, a charity which seeks to raise awareness and of suicide in young males and also help to prevent men taking their own lives.
Strok is unmarried, he was engaged to Croatian supermodel Lucija Petrovic for five years between 2024 and 2029 before the couple separated. Strok has said he no longer believes in the institution of marriage.
On 9 June 2042, Strok was given Honorary Freedom of the City of Glasgow, with the citation "in recognition of his role as Captain of Celtic Football Club and performances for the side which have enhanced the reputation of the City".
In 2044, Strok was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.
- Scottish Premiership (23): 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2023-2024, 2024-2025, 2025-2026, 2026-2027, 2027-2028, 2028-2029, 2029-2030, 2030-2031, 2031-2032, 2032-2033, 2033-2034, 2034-2035, 2035-2036, 2036-2037, 2037-2038, 2038-2039, 2039-2040, 2040-2041, 2041-2042
- Scottish Cup (13): 2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2023-2024, 2024-2025, 2025-2026, 2026-2027, 2028-2029, 2029-2030, 2033-2034, 2035-2036, 2037-2038, 2038-2039, 2041-2042
- Scottish League Cup (18): 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2024-2025, 2025-2026, 2026-2027, 2027-2028, 2028-2029, 2029-2030, 2030-2031, 2033-2034, 2034-2035, 2035-2036, 2036-2037, 2039-2040, 2040-2041, 2041-2042
- UEFA Champions League (4): 2021-2022, 2031-2032, 2033-2034, 2036-2037
- UEFA Europa League (1): 2020-2021
- UEFA Super Cup (2): 2022, 2032
- FIFA Club World Cup (4): 2022, 2032, 2034, 2037
- PFA Scotland Players' Player of the Year: 2021-2022, 2023-2024, 2024-2025, 2025-2026, 2026-2027, 2027-2028, 2028-2029, 2029-2030, 2030-2031, 2031-2032, 2032-2033, 2035-2036
- SFWA Footballer of the Year: 2033-2034, 2034-2035, 2037-2038, 2038-2039
- PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year: 2022-2023
- Scottish Premiership Top Scorer: 2021-2022, 2023-2024, 2024-2025, 2025-2026, 2026-2027, 2027-2028, 2028-2029, 2029-2030, 2030-2031, 2031-2032, 2032-2033, 2033-2034, 2034-2035, 2035-2036, 2037-2038, 2040-2041
- Scottish Premiership Goal of the Season: 2032-2033
- European Golden Shoe: 2023-2024, 2024-2025, 2025-2026, 2028-2029, 2031-2032, 2033-2034
- Ballon d'Or – Second place: 2032
- FIFPro World XI: 2025, 2027, 2028, 2031, 2032, 2033, 2036
- World Cup Best Young Player Award: 2022
- BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year: 2032
- Scottish Premier League Highest-ever goalscorer: 683 goals
- UEFA Champions League Highest-ever goalscorer: 112 goals
- International football Highest-ever goalscorer: 152 goals
- Most overall goals scored for Celtic: 836
- Inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2044
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