Ivica Vastić (born September 29, 1969) is a Croatian-born Austrian football midfielder, formerly a striker, who currently plays for LASK Linz and the Austria national football team.
Born in Split
, Vastić started to play for local clubs Jugovinil (today GOŠK Adriachem
) and RNK Split
before moving to Austria and joining First Vienna FC
in 1991. He subsequently also played for VSE St. Pölten
and Admira Wacker Mödling
in Austria, and also had a short spell with German Bundesliga
side MSV Duisburg
, where he only made 10 league appearances without scoring a goal.
His most notable spell was with Sturm Graz
between 1994 and 2002, during which he helped the club winning the Austrian Bundesliga
two consecutive times in 1998 and 1999, as well as winning the Austrian Cup
in 1996, 1997 and 1999. With the club, he also played in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League
in the 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 seasons of the competition.
Japan and return to Austria
He left Sturm for a one-season spell with Japanese
club Nagoya Grampus Eight
, after which he returned to Austria to spend two seasons with Austria Vienna
before joining his current club, LASK Linz, in the summer of 2005. He performed well for LASK in the Erste Liga
, the Austrian second division, and was the top goalscorer of the league in two consecutive seasons, scoring a total of 42 goals in 62 league appearances between 2005 and 2007. After helping LASK winning promotion to the Austrian Bundesliga in 2007, he went on to help the club finish sixth in the 2007/2008 Austrian Bundesliga season and himself finished the season as the club's top goalscorer in the league, having netted 13 goals in 32 appearances.
Vastić became an Austrian national in 1996
and subsequently started to play for the Austrian national team
. Until 2005
, Vastić won a total of 46 caps and scored 12 goals as an Austrian international. He then disappeared from the team for a period before making a spectacular comeback in 2008, being a surprise selection in the Euro 2008
squad and scoring Austria's first ever goal in the European Championship, also becoming the oldest goalscorer in the history of the tournament.
1998 World Cup
Vastić's first appearance at a major tournament with Austria was at the 1998 FIFA World Cup
finals in France
, where he appeared in all of the team's three group matches and scored a last-minute equaliser in their second match at the tournament, a 1–1 draw against Chile
. The Austrians were, however, eliminated from the tournament in the first round after recording two draws and one defeat.
On April 24 2008
, Vastić was surprisingly added to Austria's preliminary squad for the UEFA Euro 2008
finals co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland
in June. His last appearance for the national team prior to the call-up had more than two and a half years before, on August 17 2005
in their 2–2 draw in a friendly match against Scotland
. He then made his international comeback, winning his 47th cap, as a substitute in Austria's friendly match against Nigeria
on May 27 2008
and was eventually added to their final 23-man squad for the Euro 2008 finals, where he was the oldest player. In Austria's next friendly match three days later, he scored the team's fourth goal in their 5–1 victory over Malta
On June 8, Vastić made his Euro 2008 bow in the 1–0 defeat to his native Croatia, replacing Jürgen Säumel in the 61st minute.
On June 12, Vastić appeared in Austria's second match of the tournament, a 1–1 draw with Poland, winning his 50th international cap as he replaced captain Andreas Ivanschitz in the 64th minute. In the match, he scored Austria's first goal in the final tournaments of the UEFA European Championship by netting an injury-time penalty to equalise, also becoming the oldest goalscorer of the European Championship finals at age , over four years older than Nené who held the record since 1984. The resulting tie also ensured Croatia's advance to the quarter finals.
Vastić won the Austrian Footballer of the Year award in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2007. During his time with Sturm Graz, he was the top goalscorer of the Austrian Bundesliga two times, in 1996 and 2000.