Aljoša Asanović (born 14 December 1965 in Split, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia) is a retired Croatian footballer best known from his performances in the mid-to-late 90s when he played for Derby County and for Croatia during Euro 96 and World Cup 98. He was nicknamed "Vatreni Lakat" (meaning "fiery elbow") for his style of running with elbow pointed out, moving opposing players.
Asanović started his professional career with Hajduk Split in 1984. This was first of the three spells he had with Hajduk, as he came back to play for the club in 1994 and 2001 respectively. In his first spell with Hajduk, he played until the 1990, when he was signed by the French club FC Metz.
He spent one season with FC Metz, during which he made total of 35 appearances and scored 13 goals. In summer of 1991, he moved to another French club, AS Cannes, where also spent only one season. After playing one season for Cannes, in the beginning of the 1992/93 season he was signed by his third club in France - Montpellier HSC. He appeared in total of 43 matches and scored 10 goals in the process. He stayed with the club for two seasons, until the summer of 1994.
After four season in France, he was summoned by his native club Hajduk Split in 1994. The club signed Asanović and several other important players such as Igor Štimac, Tonči Gabrić and FC Barcelona youngster Goran Vučević, as they were eager to qualify for 1994–95 UEFA Champions League for the first time since Croatian independence. Asanović scored two goals in 2nd leg of qualifier against KP Legia Warsaw and Hajduk Split qualified for 1994–95 UEFA Champions League. Asanović added another goal in the group stage match against FC Steaua Bucureşti. Hajduk went on to reach the quarterfinals of 1994–95 UEFA Champions League where they were eliminated by eventual champions AFC Ajax. During 1994-95 season with Hajduk, Asanović won Croatian league and Cup, appearing in 33 domestic league matches and scoring 8 goals. In summer 1995 he was loaned to Spanish La Liga team Real Valladolid.
In July 1996 Asanović was signed by the Premier League club Derby County where he played alongside his former Hajduk teammate Igor Štimac. He spent one and a half seasons with Derby County and appeared in 38 domestic league matches. At the start of the 1997-98 season, with the 1998 FIFA World Cup looming in the summer, he was not a regular in the Derby side and decided to leave the club in December 1997 in order to find his form for the summer tournament in France.
In winter of 1997, Asanović changed clubs again. After playing for several clubs in Croatia, France, Spain and England he moved to his 5th different professional football league. This time he moved to Italy, as he signed with S.S.C. Napoli. He established himself in the team quickly and managed to make appearance in 15 Serie A games during his 6 months spell with the club, but failed to score a single goal.
After some impressive performances at 1998 FIFA World Cup, he signed with Panathinaikos F.C. in Greece. In two seasons with Panathinaikos he appeared in 44 league matches, scoring 9 goals. In 2000, he moved to Austria Wien. After a short spell with Sydney United in 2001, he came back to his hometown club Hajduk Split and finished his career.
The talented left-footed midfielder was one of the most important players for the Croatian football team during their golden age from 1994 to 1998. He was arguably Croatia's most intelligent player in midfield, yet lacked the complete package of skills possessed by his fellow midfielder Robert Prosinečki. In his national team debut on 17 October 1990, in a 2–1 victory against the USA which also was Croatia's first international since the independence from Yugoslavia, Asanović even netted the first goal.
He participated in the Euro 1996 as well as the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where Croatia won the bronze medal. In semi-final of the world cup, Asanović made the assist to Davor Šuker from the centre of the field with a loop pass, for Croatia to take the lead against the host France.
His last international match was a 28 May 2000 friendly against France. In total he was capped 62 times, scoring 4 goals, thus ranking among the top five Croatian national players. Asanović ended his active career in 2002 while with Hajduk Split, the club in which his career had started almost twenty years earlier.
In 2006, he became assistant manager of Croatia national football team. On 29 December 2008 Asanović was linked to the Derby County job after Paul Jewell resigned. At the moment he is assistant manager of FC Lokomotiv Moscow, working alongside his former teammates Slaven Bilić, Nikola Jurčević and Marijan Mrmić.Hajduk Split
Croatian First League (1): 1994-95
Croatian Cup (1): 1995
Croatian Super Cup (1): 1994
Yugoslav Cup (2): 1987, 1991
Coupe de la Ligue (1): 1992
Franjo Bučar State Award for Sport - 1998
Order of Danica Hrvatska with face of Franjo Bučar - 1995
Order of the Croatian Trefoil - 1998