Josip Skoblar: ‘Monsieur Goal’ Strikes Again

Harry Burford

Although there are arguably several more exciting and widely coveted leagues currently operating within the wider European game these days, no one could accuse the French top-flight of failing to produce some of the very best players we’ve come to know and love in recent years.

From former favourites such as Thierry Henry and the great Eric Cantona, to a whole host of more recent additions in the form of Anthony Martial, Ousmane Dembele and the ever impressive Kylian Mbappe – the French have always been known for their ability in producing widespread talent at a frequent and dependable rate.

The French top-flight has also enjoyed some great foreign imports, too. George Weah, Juninho Pernambucano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are just some of the names most commonly associated with trying their hand among Ligue 1 with mounting success. Each player arrived on French shores with the aim of setting their new stage alight, subsequently achieving many impressive accolades as a result of their newfound venture.

Yet there is one player who is often overlooked when listing the myriad of foreign imports who have sought to do the business in France. Alongside the unruly Bosnian goalscorer that was PSG’s Safet Susic, another Balkan hitman once introduced himself among the French game with insurmountable success.

He arrived in the form of Josip Skoblar – one of Olympique de Marseille’s favourite foreign sons – and there are few voices within the modern European game who could ever seek to discredit the countless efforts of the great ‘Monsieur Goal’ himself. The man was an absolute machine with the back of the net locked firmly in his sights…

‘Monsieur Goal’ – or the ‘Dalmatian Eagle’ as he has sometimes been referred to in many a previous season – was a Yugoslavian centre-forward who gained fame in France throughout the late 60s and 70s. Although Josip Skoblar doesn’t exactly arrive as much of a household name outside the realms of top-flight French football, the Balkan-born striker nonetheless symbolises something of a welcome cult hero among the vocal Marseille faithful.

The free-scoring frontman gained much of his early notoriety whilst playing in both Serbia and Germany, however. Skoblar was initially spotted during military service for his native homeland. From here, the Yugoslavian international joined up with OFK Belgrade before eventually turning out for Hannover 96, where his goalscoring record was nothing short of spectacular.

‘Monsieur Goal’ scored 30 goals in just over 50 league appearances for the Germans, but it was his stint among the south of France that ultimately developed the striker’s legendary status above all else. Hannover 96 would soon regret ever allowing the ‘Dalmatian Eagle’ to part ways for the French top-flight. It was a decision that would live on in infamy for the jubilant Marseille faithful…

During the famed 1970s, Josip Skoblar struck up a wonderfully profitable relationship with the great Swedish striker that was Roger Magnusson – another largely overlooked goal-scorer from a time long since passed. The pair scored over 200 goals whilst operating among the French top-flight together, achieving several illustrious league and cup triumphs in the process for Marseille.

Skoblar became widely decorated in France. He still holds the record for scoring the most goals in a single league season among the highest tier of French football, which served only to complement his wide array of talents when played through in front of goal by his respective teammates.

As a result of his brutish speed, uncompromising sense of physicality and proficient technical prowess with both feet – ‘Monsieur Goal’ proved capable of scoring a wide variety of finishes from all types of angles and scenarios. From neatly finished manoeuvres to long-range screamers and delicate free-kicks, Josip Skoblar rarely served to disappoint. He was a true menace in front of the keeper, an earnest natural goalscorer in the eyes of all those who saw him play.

Despite representing Marseille for close to ten hard-fought years, the ‘Dalmatian Eagle’ would go on to supervise as many as twelve different outfits during his time spent marauding the side-lines as a top-flight tactician. Much was expected of Skoblar ‘the manager’, but he never could recapture the same rich vein that served to encapsulate his notorious playing days in a renowned and fabulous manner.

Marseille’s Yugoslavian frontman was widely admired for many aspects of his overall game, but it was his goals that ultimately rose to the forefront as some of the very best of their kind. Skoblar served to dispatch all kinds of wonderful finishes. His composure in one-on-one situations was close to perfection, as was his dominant aerial ability and impressive link-up play inside the final third.

Whilst the likes of Juninho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic remain widely celebrated in France as some of the best foreign imports to ever stake their claim within the French Ligue 1, Josip Skoblar still holds the record for scoring 44 goals in a single league campaign – and until such an accolade is broken by the next great newcomer to try his hand in France – ‘Monsieur Goal’ must be remembered and commemorated accordingly.

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