While the enigmatic Brazillian midfielder, Ronaldinho was at the peak of his powers, a certain young boy coming through the Dinamo Zagreb youth team was sweating it out trying to replicate the Brazilians’ impressive repertoire of skills. Marko Pjaca believed just like many aspiring young kids, that one day he would make the cut, and succeed as a professional football player. Marko is definitely not yet the finished article, but he is surely on track to fulfilling his immense potential.
Marko Pjaca’s Bio
Marko Pjaca was born on the 6th of May 1995 in Zagreb. As a child, he displayed a flair for sports, excelling in basketball, handball and table tennis. However, football was always going to be his first choice. At the age of nine, he joined the Dinamo Zagreb youth setup where he spent five years, in 2009, he moved to NK ZET where he spent one year before moving the Locomotiva youth team.
Marko Pjaca was promoted to the senior team in the 2011/12 season and made his first appearance in the Croatian First Football League on 24 February 2012. Locomotiva won the game 3-0 against with Pjaca chipping in with an assist. It would take another season for him to earn another start. The next season, he got more playing time and ended the season with 2 goals in 17 games.
In the 2013–14 season, his return of 7 goals in 31 games sent a clear message to bigger teams that a new star was on the rise. It was only a matter of time before bigger clubs in the country started to circle around for his services.
In 2014, Croatian Football League champions, Dinamo Zagreb paid €1 million to sign Pjaca. He made his first Dinamo appearance in the opening match of the league season against Slaven Belupo, marking his debut with a goal. His first professional hat-trick was in a 2014–15 UEFA Europa League group stage game against Scottish side, Celtic on the 11th of December 2014, a thrilling game which ended 4–3 in favor of the Croatians.
Enroute Dinamo’s tenth consecutive league title, Pjaca helped the team with a return of 14 goals in 47 appearances. The 2015 success also included a triumph in the Croatian Football Cup final against RNK Split.
After a 2016–17 UEFA Champions League qualifying round tie against Macedonian club Vardar, Pjaca received a standing ovation from the fans at the Stadion Maksimir after he had announced earlier that he was leaving Dinamo Zagreb.
His string of impressive performances in the Croatian league was attracting numerous suitors from around Europe. Marko Pjaca was gaining a reputation for silky skills and inventive flair as a winger who was adept at creating spaces for other teammates. It also came in handy that he could play across all the positions in the forward line. His versatility was a huge bonus for his coaches and meant he could always come in handy when other teammates were either injured or suspended.
Agile, quick, and intelligent, Pjaca was gradually becoming one of Europe’s hottest young prospects. It was only a question of time before he outgrew the Croatian league.
Italian giants Juventus announced the signing of Marko Pjaca on the 21st of July 2016, in a five-year deal. Juve paid €23 million transfer for his services and the transfer went down as the most expensive ever sale by Dinamo. It was also the most expensive export ever in the history of the Croatian Football League.
On the 27th of August 2016, Marko Pjaca donned the Juve jersey for the first time in a competitive game coming on as a sub for Paulo Dybala in The Old Lady’s 1–0 win over Lazio. Barely two months into his Juventus career, he got injured while on international duty, sustaining a crack to his fibula. The injury would keep him out for three months and he made his comeback against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia and later in a cameo against Fiorentina in Serie A.
His first Juventus goal came in a UEFA Champions League round of 16 game which ended in a 2-0 victory over FC Porto. There was more bad news for him on the injury front that season as he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in March while on international duty. It saw him miss action for another six months.
In a bid to get back to full fitness ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, on the 4th of January 2018, Pjaca sealed a loan move to German club Schalke 04 until the end of the 2017–18 season.
Pjaca has represented his Country at all age grade tournaments and was part of the Croatia squad at the 2016 Euros. He was also part of the Croatia squad that made it to the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Parents and Siblings
Marko was born into a family with sporting antecedents. His father, Željko, was a professional wrestler while his mother, Višnja, was a judoka. He has two older sisters: Iva and Martina Pjaca
Marko Pjaca’s Height, Weight, Body Stats
A first glance at Pjaca in full flight would leave you thinking he was part of the nimble, fleet-footed, small sized creative midfielders in world football but records show he stands at 1.85 meters (6 ft 1) and weighs 83 kg. His other body measurements are unavailable.