The All-around Midfielder

Full Name: Luka Modric
Birthdate: September 9, 1985
Place of Birth: Croatia
Playing years: 1996 to Present
Position(s): Midfielder
Football Club (Current): Real Madrid

Awards:

Six-time Croatian Footballer of the Year
Six-time Football Oscar for Best Croatian Player Awardee
Two-time La Liga’s Best Midfielder
Two-time ESPN Midfielder of the Year
IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker Bronze Award (2017)
FIFA World Cup Golden Ball (2018)

Notable Skills/Style of Play

– Ability to effectively link play and serve as shield
– Can pick passes between the lines into deeper area
– Can shuttle across and cross down passing lanes
– Defensive contribution in the pitch
– Fires long-range missiles from right channel
– Breaks out of midline to force opposition sideways/backwards

Formative Years and Football Career

Luka Modric’s childhood was no walk in the park. The midfield ace grew up during the Croatian War of Independence in a tiny hamlet in Dalmatia. His home region was one of the main battlegrounds of the conflict and his family had to endure the sound of gunfire and exploding landmines almost on a daily basis. They sought refuge in the port city of Zadar and were then relocated to Kolovare hotel. At the time, Modric’s love of football was beginning to take shape. He was never without a ball in his feet, kicking about in the corridors and the car park. Such was his potential that he was recommended to NK Zadar club director Josip Baljo. (Training sessions were sometimes punctured by incoming mortars, with everyone taking cover in air-raid shelters.) Davorin Matosevic, one of Modric’s youth coaches at Zadar, noticed his velvety and precise ball control straight away. However, his physique had many doubting. Modric was deemed too short and too thin to be a football player. He contemplated quitting the game when Zadar youth academy head Tomislav Basic took him under his wing. Basic rebuilt Modric’s belief that he can make the grade. (Modric would go on to dedicate the 2014 Champions League triumph to his late mentor.)

In 2001, Modric was recruited by top country club Dinamo Zagreb only to be loaned two years later to Zrinjski Mostar. The Bosnian league was known for its brutality, but Modric somehow managed to tap into his hidden physical resilience. He was even voted as the league’s player of the year. Dinamo then had him loaned to Inter Zapresic and Modric helped the top-flight side clinch its first-ever domestic league runners-up spot. Dinamo signed the gifted player to a 10-year contract and he was nothing less than magnificent, propelling the club to win three domestic cups and three Croat leagues.

Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid

Modric moved to Tottenham Hotspur on 2008 and spent four terms with the European club. Manager Harry Knapp acclaimed him as “a hell of a player” that can get the ball in the tightest areas. At the end of season 2010-11, he was voted as Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Player of the Year. Feeling the need to take a step forward and go the higher level, Modric leapt over to Spanish giants Real Madrid on a five-year deal. Under Carlo Ancelotti, Modric became a frequent starter. He played as the team’s chief passer and averaged 90% league accuracy. Predrag Mijatovic praised the Croatian, saying Modric is a midfield chief able to withstand pressure.

In the 2014 Champions League finals, Modric provided the assist for Sergio Ramos’ winning goal. The club achieved the La Decima or its 10th Champions League title. Modric was later awarded the LFP award as the Best Midfielder in La Liga (and again in 2016). He was able to win two more UEFA Champions League crowns with the Los Blancos, making him the first Croatian to win the competition thrice. In season 2017-2018, he was part of the starting XI that beat Liverpool in the Champions League. After Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus, Modric’s Number 10 jersey became the most requested shirt from the club.

Croatia National Team
Modric first made international appearances for Croatia in the under 17, under-19, and under-21. He also got to participate in the Euro Championships but is now most recognized for his 2018 World Cup efforts. He was named Man of the Match twice in Croatia’s group stage wins and was able to score penalties in both the knockouts and the quarter-finals. He rallied the team to defeat England 2-1 and the nation advanced to the finals for the first time in history. Though France eventually overcame the Vatreni, Luka Modric was still awarded the Golden Ball. He was proclaimed as the best player of the tournament, having the most dribbles per game and covering the most miles out of any player.

Serie A
Real Madrid outfit on the edge of a cliff. Spanish club in danger of losing another star.

Luka Modric is reportedly keen on an Inter Milan transfer after the Serie A club expressed interest. If they get the midfield magician to sign, he will be the third Croatian player in their roster. I Nerazzurri are set to compete in the Champions League for the first time in six years with a win over Lazio on final match day. Modric is on a much-deserved holiday break following his exceptional World Cup display. Real Madrid fans are surely on the edge of their seats waiting for his make-or-break decision. Until then, they can just hold on to the hopes that the Croat wants to achieve more in La Liga.

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