Luka Modric will be remembered in the history of modern football as the one who ended the decade long domination of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best footballer of the planet. Born on 9th September 1985, Luka established himself among the best footballers of his country as well as his current club Real Madrid. A midfielder who has class, style, and that X-factor by which someone can change the course of a football match in the blink of an eye. Let’s tale a look at the journey of one of the best midfielders to grace the beautiful game.
Early Life and Youth Career
Born in Zadar, Modric’s childhood was shattered by the Croatian War of Independence which displaced his family. But the war couldn’t snatch away the dream of young Luka to become a professional footballer. In 1996, at the age of 11, he joined his hometown club NK Zadar‘s youth system. After four years he moved to the capital as Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb signed him from the Zadar club. After one season playing in Zagreb’s youth team, he was promoted to their senior team in 2003.
After being promoted to the senior team in 2003, Luka Modric became an integral member of the Zagreb outfit as he put large contributions in their development. As a result of that, he signed his first long term contract of ten years in the 2005-05 season and helped them to win the Croatian league. The very next season he put similar contributions and Zagreb successfully defended their title. As a reward, Modric won the Prva HNL Player of the Year award. During the 2007-08 season, he helped his team to complete a hat trick of league titles as well as securing their place in the UEFA Europa League group stage. After four years of immense success and glory, Modric waved a tumultuous farewell to the Zagreb fans before moving to take the next step in his career.
In the summer of 2008, Luka Modric moved to England to sign for fellow Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. But he made a slow start to his Spurs career after picking up a knee injury that sidelined him for weeks. He was even labeled as ‘light-weight’ for the Premier League by some sections of British media and rival manager Arsene Wenger.
Critics push you forward to show people they are wrong. Maybe I look lightweight but I am a really strong person mentally and physically, and I never had any problems with my size.Luka Modric about the ongoing criticism in Media in 2008
After the departure of Spurs manager Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp took charge of the North London club and Modric found new life in his struggling career. He was given a more familiar role as a central or left-sided midfielder, allowing him to have more influence on the team and use his footballing talent more productively, for example in a 4–4 draw with arch-rivals Arsenal on 29 October. He scored his first competitive goal for Spurs in a 2–2 draw against Spartak Moscow during the UEFA Europa League group stages on 18 December 2008. He scored his first Premier League goals against Newcastle United in an away defeat on 21 December. Using Modrić in his former position from his Dinamo days made him more effective with performances against Stoke City, Hull City, and most notably on 21 March when he scored the only goal in a win against Chelsea.
[He’s] a hell of a player and a manager’s dream, so I am told. He trains like a demon and never complains, will work with and without the ball on the field and can beat a defender with a trick or with a pass. He could get into any team in the top four.Former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp on Modric in 2009
In mid-2011, Modrić was heavily pursued by Tottenham’s London rivals Chelsea, who made the first bid of £22 million, which they increased to £27 million, both of which were rejected by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. After the failed bids, Luka Modrić announced he would welcome a move across London and that he had a “gentleman’s agreement” with Levy the club would entertain offers from a “big club”. Speculation continued throughout the summer transfer window, culminating in Modrić refusing to play in Tottenham’s opening match of the 2011–12 season against Manchester United, which ended in a 3–0 loss. Modrić said his “head was not in the right place” as he continued to force a move to Chelsea.
On the final day of the transfer window, Chelsea made an offer of £40 million that was again rejected. After failing to secure a transfer, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp told Modrić to focus on his playing and named him as a starter. On 18 September, he scored his first goal of the season for Tottenham with a shot from 25 yds (23 m) in a 4–0 home win against Liverpool. On 14 January 2012, Modrić scored the only goal in a home draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers. On 31 January in a 3–1 win against Wigan Athletic, he assisted for the first goal with a crossfield pass and scored the second from 20 yds (18 m). For the third time that season, he was included in “Team of the Week“. Modrić scored his last goal for Tottenham on 2 May in a 1–4 away win against Bolton Wanderers with a powerful volley from 25 yds (23 m). He finally left Spurs in the 2012 summer transfer window for Spanish giants Real Madrid after scoring 17 goals in 159 appearances for the North London outfits.
After joined the Royal Whites, he made his Madrid debut against Barcelona in the second leg final of the 2012 Supercopa de España at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, replacing Mesut Özil in the 83rd minute. Madrid won the match, giving Modrić his first trophy with the club 36 hours after his signing was announced. Despite his positive debut, Modrić at first struggled to settle into the team under manager José Mourinho because of his lack of pre-season training, which he missed as a result of his ongoing transfer negotiations. The transfer was even labeled as one of the ‘Worst’ transfers in La Liga history by a survey of Madrid based newspaper Marca. In 2013 with the arrival of new manager Carlo Ancelotti, Modrić became one of the most frequent starters in the team, being partnered in midfield with Xabi Alonso to provide a balance of defense and attack. He was consistently the team’s most efficient passer, averaging 90% accuracy in La Liga, and also having the most ball recoveries among the squad. Modric played a pivotal role in securing the long-desired ‘la Decima‘(10th Champions League title) for the Madrid club in 2014. After having a barren 2014-15 season, Real Madrid went on to win a hat trick of Champions League titles from 2016 to 2018 along with their 33rd La Liga title in the 2016-17 season and Modric was instrumental along with fellow midfield partner Toni Kroos during the journey.
2018 will remain as the Golden year in Modric’s sumptuous career when he won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award and The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award in August and September while in December, he added the Ballon d’Or to his personal tally, making the first time since 2007 that the award was not won by Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, which polarized the people involved in the sport into two camps about the credibility of the award. Furthermore, besides becoming the first Croatian player to win these awards, Modrić was the first player to win both the World Cup Golden Ball and the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award in the same year since Ronaldo de Lima in 1998.
It shows that we all can become the best with hard work, dedication, and belief, all dreams can come true.Luka Modric after winning FIFA Best player award in 2018
After Zinedine Zidane left in 2018 Real Madrid saw a turmoil in their club with several managerial changes and every one of them eventually failed even the like of Julen Lopetegui. The 2018-19 season wasn’t great for the Royal Whites as they couldn’t even get the 2nd spot in La Liga table and endured a shambolic defeat at the hands of Ajax in front of their home crowd in the Champions League round of 16. At the start of the 2019-20 season, Zidane returned to steady the ship, and not only did he kept the things going but also started to win match after match with his tactical brilliance and a midfield combined of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro played a pivotal role in securing Madrid’s 34th Liga title.
Luka Modrić began his international career at the youth level, playing for the Croatian under-15, under-17, under-18, under-19, and under-21 teams. He debuted in March 2001 for the under-15 team coached by Martin Novoselac. Modrić made his full international debut for Croatia on 1 March 2006 in a friendly match against Argentina in Basel, which Croatia won 3–2. Modrić made two appearances at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals as a substitute in the group fixtures against Japan and Australia. With the appointment of new manager Slaven Bilić, Modrić earned greater recognition at the international level; he scored his first goal in Croatia’s 2–0 friendly win over Italy on 16 August 2006 in Livorno. Modrić scored Croatia’s first goal of Euro 2008, converting a penalty in the fourth minute of their 1–0 victory against host Austria on 8 June 2008.
In the quarter-final against Turkey, Modrić made a cross to teammate Ivan Klasnić for the first goal of the match with one minute of extra time remaining, but Semih Şentürk almost immediately equalized for Turkey. In the ensuing penalty shootout, Modrić’s kick was off-target and he failed to score the first penalty and Turkey won the shootout 3–1. At the end of the competition, Modrić was included in the UEFA Team of the Tournament, becoming only the second Croatian to achieve this honor after Davor Šuker. Croatia entered in 2014 FIFA World Cup with hosts Brazil, Mexico, and Cameroon in Group A. Croatia played the opening match against Brazil, which they lost 3–1 and Modrić sustained a minor foot injury. In the second match, Croatia won 4–0 against Cameroon but did not progress to the knockout stage after losing 3–1 to Mexico.
In the 2018 World Cup, Luka Modric scored his trademark long ranger goal against Argentina in their 2nd group game and took them to the knockouts. In the round of 16 against Denmark with the score tied at 1–1, Modrić created a goalscoring opportunity for Ante Rebić in the second half of extra-time, who was brought down in the penalty area; Modrić proceeded to take the penalty, but his strike was saved by Kasper Schmeichel. However, Modrić managed to score his spot-kick during the ensuing penalty shoot-out and Croatia advanced to the next round following a 3–2 victory on penalties. In the quarter-finals against hosts Russia, Modrić provided an assist in extra-time for defender Domagoj Vida from a corner kick, and once again scored in the victorious penalty shoot-out following a 2–2 draw; he was named Man of the Match for the third time in the tournament.
In the semi-final against England on 11 July, Croatia advanced to the World Cup final for the first time in their history following a 2–1 victory in extra time. It was reported two days before the final match that Modrić ran the most miles out of any player and was third by created chances, as well had most dribbles per match and completed passes in the opponent’s half in his team. Croatia was beaten 4–2 by France in the final on 15 July but Luka Modrić was deservedly awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament and was included in the team of the tournament. After the squad’s huge welcome in Zagreb, Modrić and his teammates were welcomed by tens of thousands of people in his hometown of Zadar.
Luka Modrić married Vanja Bosnić in May 2010 in Zagreb in a private ceremony after four years of dating. Their son, Ivano, was born on 6 June 2010 and their daughter, Ema, was born on 25 April 2013. Their second daughter, Sofia, was born on 2 October 2017. Modrić generally maintains a low profile outside of football. In addition to his native Croatian, Modrić also speaks English and Spanish and is Roman Catholic by religious views. In late 2019, Modrić released his autobiography Moja igra (My Game), co-written by a prominent Croatian sports journalist Robert Matteson.
We wish him a very happy birthday and lots of success in his future career ahead.
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