A child of war
A boy from a refugee family became a world star. They give for him almost a billion.
Croatian midfielder Real Luka Modric was recognized as the best at the 2018 World Cup. The president of the creamy Florentino Peres decided to scare away the buyers with 750 million euros of compensation, though he slowed down his turnover. Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegi is sure that Modric will start the new season in Real Madrid.
Modric was born in the wild time for Yugoslavia – with the collapse of the country. In 1991, when Luka was only six years old, the village, in which the Croatian family lived, was captured by rebels. Grandfather of Modrić was killed in front of the boy. The family of the future football player was forced to leave his native city. Modric family received refugee status. According to the player words, these events hardened him and allowed him to build a successful football career in the future.
After Modric’s father returned from the army, Luka began training at the local sports academy. Despite the difficult times, his father found money for his son’s classes. But football teams did not consider the boy seriously: he was too frail.
“Luka kicked the ball all day around the hotel. He was thin and very small for his age, but you could immediately notice something special about him. But no one could imagine that one day he would grow up and become great, ” recalls the first coach of a football player.
Luka continued training, despite the ridicule of peers. Perseverance was paid off – already at 16, Modric signed a contract with Dynamo Zagreb. The new team was in no hurry to allow the young player to prove himself, and the midfielder was chased from rent to lease. Modric did not get lost , and the Dynamo bosses recognized the talent of a football player by signing a 10-year contract with him.
For three seasons in the team, Modric played in 112 matches and scored 31 goals. In 2007, together with the team, the midfielder won the national championship and the Croatian Cup. For his merits midfielder was awarded the title of the best football player in Croatia. He did not want to rest on his laurels, and he accepted a new challenge for himself.
Not afraid of anything
In the spring of 2008, agents of English Tottenham came to Modric. The Croatian did not hesitate a minute to go to the English Premier League. The new coach of the midfielder Harry Redknapp changed his playing role: from the attacking midfielder Modric turned into a defender. This wasn’t a problem for the player. The Croatian easily coped with new responsibilities and became one of the most important players in the team.
“In the pre-match discussions Redknapp read out the line-up and said:“ Just pass on Modric, then Luka will find Rafa – and we will win the match, ” recalled his teammate Rafael van der Warth. The Croatian was too good to remain without attention of the main players in the football market.
In 2012, the president of Real Madrid declares to his agents that he needs Modric. The English club did not want to let the player go, but under the onslaught of the Madrid bosses, they agreed anyway. In the summer of the same year, Modric signed a contract with Real and received, perhaps, the main opportunity in his life.
Nevertheless, the premier season under the leadership of Jose Mourinho was not very successful for the Croatian. Six months after the transition, Marca recognized the player as the worst newcomer of the year in La Liga. The football player had to preload. The second half of the season at Mourinho, he spent much stronger. When Carlo Ancelotti came to Real Madrid, everything changed completely.
The Italian found where to apply the talents of the Croatian. With Modric, pulling the strings in the center of the field, Real Madrid became the best team in Europe. Over the past four seasons, the creamy managed to win the Champions League three times in a row: once with Ancelotti and two more times with Zinedine Zidane.
“Modric is definitely one of the best midfielders in the world. He has great technical skills, reads the game and has a strong personality that he has built over the years. In addition, he is a very nice person, ”Signor Ancelotti told about work with Modric.
Croatian playmaker managed to become a prominent figure in the team, despite the presence of the main star of world football – Cristiano Ronaldo .
“I have many stars, but I am particularly pleased to talk about Modric. His calm with the ball is on an incredible level. He is calm himself. It allows the team to play well, ” said Croatian Zinedine Zidane, who worked at Real Madrid from 2016 till 2018.
The national hero
The first major tournament in the national team for the midfielder was Euro 2008. The one in which the Croatians dragged the Russian national team, beating England on the Wembley in a match that means nothing from a tournament point of view. At the Euro, the Modric team reached the quarter-finals of the tournament, where it offended the Turks. The game slipped from the hands of the Croatians in the last minutes of extra time.
At Euro 2012, the Balkan national team failed to overcome the group stage. But even then, the Croatians on a par with the best. A draw with the Italians (1: 1) and an insulting defeat from the current champions of the Spaniards with a score of 0: 1. They did not have one point to get to playoff. Four years later they were unlucky again: at the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, Croatia was not allowed in by the future victors of the tournament.
The Portuguese squeezed out a victory in extra time with a score of 1: 0. Although the Croats took revenge on the Spaniards. In the final group stage match, Croatia celebrated a 2: 1 victory.
World Cup continues without Russia. The fight for the cup is in full swing.
Becoming more experienced and meaner, the Croats went to the world championship in Russia. The coach of the Balkan team Zlatko Dalic did not reinvent the wheel. A strong and well-played team arrived at the tournament, the modular centre of which was Modric.
At the tournament midfielder did not just work for three. Modric was filigree with the ball and regularly supplied partners with accurate passes. The accuracy rate of the mini playmaker passes approached 90 percent. At the same time, Modric did not forget to personally threaten the opponents’ goal, scoring two goals for the world championship on his scoring goal. It was his goal in the 80th minute of the match with the Argentines almost ruined the hopes of Latin Americans to exit the group, making the score 2:0.
Then Modric demonstrated everything: the vision of the field, and the ability to be at the right time in the right place, and his technical skills. Taking the ball from a partner in the penalty opponent, Real Madrid midfielder deftly shook his opponent and pierced the gates of the Argentines with a cunning blow.
Leaving the group, the Croats met with fierce resistance. Both the Danes, and the Russian team were overtaken only on penalties. Modric in both meetings showed almost inhuman endurance and performance. The match with the British, contrary to expectations, was even easier for the seemingly exhausted Croats. The British failed to bring football home, and everything was decided without a penalty shootout. The Croats won 2: 1, the road to the final was open. Dalić’s team has already gone down in history, overtaking the 1998 bronze team.
Alas, the Croats were not destined to jump above their heads. The French had their debts to their fans. They returned to France its 1998 , breaking the Croats on the Luzhniki field with a score of 4: 2 in the World Cup final. And their rivals went home, but despite the defeat, they met Dalic’s team as heroes in Croatia.
Modric proved that even if he resembles a cyborg on the field, in communication he is a sensitive and a bright guy. At a meeting with fans, he invited a child with Down syndrome to the stage. Modric embraced the happy boy, giving him and others perhaps the warmest memory of the performance of the Croatians at the 2018 World Cup.