Mark Bosnich



Mark Bosnich was born and raised in Liverpool, New South Wales in a Croatian family and attended Casula Primary School and later Liverpool Boys High School. Bosnich played for Sydney Croatia youth team before moving to England. In 1989, at the age of 17, he joined Manchester United on a non-contract basis and made his debut for them in a First Division fixture against Wimbledon on 30 April 1990.

He only played two more games for Manchester United before his registration with the club was cancelled on 30 June 1991. He then returned to Sydney Croatia briefly in the 1991–92 season. He returned to England signing for Aston Villa on a free transfer on 28 February 1992.

Aston Villa (1992–1999)

Mark Bosnich did not claim a regular place in the Aston Villa first team until the 1993–94 season. In the League Cup semi-final against Tranmere Rovers that season, he dramatically stopped three shots in a penalty shoot-out. He later admitted that he should have been sent off before extra-time began for fouling Tranmere’s John Aldridge. Villa would go on to win the final, against his former club, Manchester United. In March 1994 Bosnich saved two penalties against Tottenham Hotspur, one from Darren Anderton and one from Nick Barmby, to help secure a 1-1 draw. These were his fourth and fifth penalty saves from open play that season. 1994–95 was Bosnich’s first full season as Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper, but it was a hugely disappointing season for the club as they narrowly avoided relegation.

Mark Bosnich was one of the few players to be retained by new manager Brian Little following Atkinson’s dismissal in November 1994, as the bulk of Atkinson’s team was sold off to make way for a new side. 1995–96 was perhaps the best season of Bosnich’s career. He was now widely acclaimed as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, as he helped Villa finished fourth in the league and win the Football League Cup final at Wembley with a 3–0 triumph over Leeds United.

In 1996, Bosnich was fined £1,000 and censured by the FA after he was found guilty of misconduct by upsetting fans of Tottenham Hotspur (a club with a large Jewish following) with a Nazi salute. Bosnich spent three more seasons at Villa Park before his contract expired and he joined Manchester United on a free transfer. He had played 227 times in seven-and-a-half years with the Midlanders.

Return to Manchester United (1999–2001)

Mark Bosnich was signed for Manchester United in the 1999 close season as successor to Peter Schmeichel, signing on a free transfer after his contract at Villa Park expired. During the season, he picked up a Premier League title medal as United were crowned champions by an 18-point margin. That season Bosnich started 23 league games, Raimond van der Gouw started 11 and Massimo Taibi started 4. A highlight of this season was saving a penalty from Middlesbrough’s Juninho to help secure a 1-0 win in January 2000. He also played a key role in Manchester United becoming the first English team to win the Toyota World Club Championship in keeping a clean sheet against Palmeiras of Brazil, in Tokyo, during the 1999 Intercontinental Cup.

He had one season as United’s regular goalkeeper, but then they signed the French World Cup winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez in June 2000. Soon after, Bosnich found himself as third-choice goalkeeper. Newly appointed Celtic manager Martin O’Neill made an offer to loan Bosnich for the 2000–01 season, but he decided against the move and decided that he would try and regain his place in the Manchester United first team. He had also fallen out of favour with the national side, losing his spot to Mark Schwarzer. With hopes of a first team return fading Bosnich was linked with Chelsea.

In Alex Ferguson’s autobiography released in 2013, he called Bosnich a “terrible professional”. Bosnich responded to Ferguson, saying, “The fact remains that I was the only player he signed twice at Manchester United. I’m honoured to be mentioned. He’s entitled to his view and I’m entitled to mine.”

Chelsea (2001–2002)

Mark Bosnich never played a first-team game for United after the arrival of Fabien Barthez, and on 18 January 2001 he signed for Chelsea on a free transfer. Problems with his fitness and injury meant his debut did not happen until the following season. Bosnich was earning A$130,000-a-week (approximately £45,500-a-week) at Chelsea. His football career reached rock-bottom in September 2002 when he failed a drugs test and was subsequently sacked by Chelsea and banned from football for nine months.

Exile and return (2002–2007)

The suspension scuppered a move to Bolton Wanderers in the newly introduced winter transfer window. Bosnich was keen on the idea of moving to the Reebok Stadium and the player’s agent admitted that dialogue had taken place but Sam Allardyce remained coy about his interest. In the autumn of 2004, he spurned an opportunity to return to football with League One side, Walsall, who were then managed by Paul Merson, who had played alongside Bosnich in his final season at Aston Villa. Later speculation linked him with a return to football with Conference side Grays Athletic.

Mark Bosnich developed a $5,000-a-week cocaine addiction and became a recluse. Bosnich took up to 10 g (0.35 oz) of cocaine a day. At one stage, he almost shot his father with an air rifle, thinking it was an intruder in his home. His father convinced him to quit the drug. In early 2007, former Chelsea team-mate and QPR goalkeeping coach Ed de Goey gave him inspiration to come out of retirement. By July 2007, Bosnich started training at Queens Park Rangers’ training ground in an attempt to initially get fit, with the view to play professionally again. During the summer he lost 15 kg (33 lb) and claimed to have regained most of his reflexes. In September he kept a clean sheet in goal during a friendly behind closed doors against Barnet, which QPR won 2–0.


Mark Bosnich returned to Australia in 2008 after many years living in London. Bosnich was confirmed to be the starting goalkeeper for the Central Coast Mariners for their pre-season cup game against Sydney FC on 27 July 2008. Bosnich kept a clean sheet including saving a penalty by Sydney FC’s Steve Corica before being substituted in the 80th minute to a standing ovation by both sets of supporters. On 19 August 2008, Bosnich signed a seven-week guest player deal with the Mariners.

Mark Bosnich made his A-League debut with the Central Coast Mariners on 31 August 2008 in a 4–2 away win against the Queensland Roar at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Once Mariners first-choice goalkeeper Danny Vukovic had served his suspension, Bosnich did not play again for the Mariners. On 31 May 2009, it was announced that Bosnich had signed to play for Sydney Olympic for the remainder of the NSW Premier League season.

Mark Bosnich suffered a hamstring injury and he ended his playing career to focus on his television commitments. On 22 October 2010, it was confirmed Bosnich would temporarily join the North Queensland Fury as an interim coach for the fixture against Newcastle Jets, in the absence of Franz Straka and Stuart McLaren, who had been banned from the touchline for two games. However, Bosnich was not allowed by the FFA because he did not have a coaching license.

International career

His first appearance with the national team came in 1990 against touring USSR club side Torpedo, followed by a number of further appearances in ‘unofficial’ Socceroos matches in the next few years. His first full international appearance came in 1993 against New Zealand in a qualifying match for the 1994 World Cup. Bosnich also appeared for the Socceroos at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Although his international appearances with the Socceroos were rare, they were memorable occasions. Keeping for Australia in the away leg of its home-and-away qualifier with Iran in a failed attempt to qualify for the 1998 World Cup, Australia losing on away goals in what Bosnich described as “the lowest moment in Australian football”. Bosnich also scored a late penalty for his national team in a 13–0 win over the Solomon Islands. He admitted that he was hopeful of selection for Australia to make up for the times he shunned it in favour of his club commitments. “If I ever get the chance to play for Australia again, I will never make the mistake of saying ‘no’.”

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