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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Alen Boksic

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Alen Boksic was an exceptional talent who, despite not living up to his potential, delighted Lazio fans for many years.

He was born in Makarska, Croatia, on January 21, 1970. He is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of Croatian football.

He started his career at nearby Hajduk Split. He played there for three years from 1987-1991. He made 96 appearances and scored 27 goals, also winning a Jugoslavian Cup in 1991.

In the summer of 1991 he went abroad to France and signed for Cannes in Ligue 1. He played just once for the seaside club but a year later he made the jump to bigger club Marseille along the coast. It was in Marseille that he really started to show his talent. In his only season with Marseille he scored 29 league goals in 37 appearances. A phenomenal achievement making him France's top scorer and helping to win the league title (then taken away for match fixing scandal). Marseille also lifted the pre-champions league European Cup beating Milan in the final in Munich. Boksic was a candidate for the prestigious Golden Ball award and came fourth (behind winner Roberto Baggio, Denis Bergkamp and Eric Cantona).

In November 1993 Boksic moved to Italy. He was signed by ambitious Lazio for 15 billion Lire (approx. 8 million Euros). At Lazio he would play for three seasons (1993-1996). He played 80 games and scored 19 times. He impressed but the Lazio manager was Zdenek Zeman, particularly renowned for his tough training methods. Boksic was said to not willingly accept these sessions and perhaps didn't show his full potential.

In 1996 Boksic moved up north to Italian giants Juventus. With the Bianconeri he won the Intercontinental Club Cup, the European Super Cup and the Scudetto. He also played in the Champions League final loss to Borussia Dortmund. He only scored 7 goals in Turin, with 4 coming in the Champions League. He was criticised for not being clinical enough in front of goal and he also suffered several injuries. As it was he returned to Lazio in 1997, after only one season up north. Lazio re-signed him for 25 billion Lire (approx. 13 million Euros) so not exactly a masterpiece of economic strategy. The fact was Boksic wanted to return and Lazio were glad to have him back, even at double the price.

Back in the capital Boksic would then have possibly his best season so far, scoring 10 goals in Serie A. Lazio fought for the title until April and won the Coppa Italia. Towards the end of the season, however, Boksic got injured again and was forced to miss the 1998 World Cup in France (Croatia came 3rd).

In the following season Boksic was again hindered by physical problems but Lazio won the European Cup Winners Cup in Birmingham. The following year he and Lazio won the biggest prize of all, the Scudetto. In total Boksic played six years at Lazio over two spells. He played 115 games for Lazio in Serie A and scored 31 goals, plus 15 appearances in Coppa Italia with 8 goals, 10 in Champions League with one goal, 3 in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup with one goal and finally 14 in the UEFA Cup with 2 goals.

After some problems with Lazio manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, in the summer of 2000 Boksic signed for Middlesbrough, in the English Premier League. He would play in North Yorkshire for three years totalling 68 games with 22 goals. He was said to earn the highest wages in the whole league and this fact, along with his aloof and solitary character, never enabled him to completely fit in. Despite this he did have some highs on the banks of the River Tee. He scored some decisive derby goals and helped Boro stay in the Premier League. He showed flashes of his masterclass but ultimately left a feeling of unfulfilled possibilities in the North-East and in England.

In 2003 Boksic retired from football. Injuries and lack of motivation led him to call it a day at 33. He had been a great player but could have been outstanding.

At International level he earned 40 Caps for Croatia and scored 10 goals. He was unlucky that his only World Cup Finals appearance came in the twilight of his career in 2002, when the Croatian team of that generation were also past their peak.

Boksic was a modern attacker. He was 1.89 metres tall, physically strong and dynamic. He would drop from the box, switch flanks, attract and disorientate defenders with his runs, accelerations and dribbling. Running at defenders at full force he was devastating. He had power and skill enabling him to open up defences and give depth to his team. He was never a 20-plus goal striker (except for his season at Marseille) but all his other attributes made up for his lack of efficiency in front of goal. When he did score however they were often quality, he was no tap-in goal scorer.

There was and always will be a sense that with his talent, technique and physical prowess Boksic could have done more, a lot more. Early in his career he had been compared to Marco Van Basten, in the way he could do it all. Without injuries and perhaps a different mindset Boksic could have been one of the all-time greats.

At Lazio he was called the 'L'Alieno' (The Alien) obviously for his name but also for his aloofness and extra-terrestrial qualities. When I witnessed his debut for Lazio I thought he might well be from another planet, he was that good. In his six years in Rome he scored some memorable goals; lobs, chips, headers, powerful strikes, you name it he scored them. He scored in derbies and a crucial goal in the Cup Winners Cup Semi-final against Lokomotiv Moscow. In Rome too however, he left a feeling of what could have been. He was physically strong (when not injured anyway...) but probably not mentally. He was considered a bit of a rebel and was solitary (he has since bought an island off Croatia), not mixing as well as the others in the squad. He disliked some of the training methods, didn't play with even the most minor niggle and was once even rumoured to have refused to play because his shirt was too tight!

He will however be remembered at Lazio as a superb player. An exceptional talent who, despite not living up to his potential, delighted Lazio fans for many years. He was part of the Cragnotti glory years and will forever belong to the Scudetto winning squad of 2000, in the most successful period in the club's history.

Lazio Career


Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Cup Winners Cup


Nov 1993-94

21 (4)

21 (4)






33 (11)

23 (9)




6 (2)


26 (4)

23 (4)






38 (15)

26 (10)

6 (5)





6 (1)




3 (1)



33 (8)

19 (4)

4 (3)

10 (1)




157 (43)

115 (31)

15 (8)

10 (1)

3 (1)

14 (2)



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