England were so close dammit, literally inches away from a second World Cup final, but alas it wasn’t meant to be as Croatia defeated the Three Lions in extra time in yesterday’s semi-final.
I know most of England is feeling down in the dumps right now, and I won’t it hold against anyone. All I can say is the future is bright for this young squad who were taken to the very limits by a very good Croatian team, captained by their star man Luka Modrić.
While most football fans will be familiar with the Real Madrid maestro’s illustrious career, what they may not be aware of is the journey the four-time Champions League winner took to reach the World Cup final.
Born in Zadar, Croatia, on September 9, 1985, Modrić’s childhood was one of conflict as it coincided with the Croatian War of Independence in 1991. As the war intensified his family were forced to flee the conflict and his father enrolled in the national army.
In December 1991, when he was six years old, he and his family were rocked by tragedy when his grandfather, along with six other elderly civilians were executed by Croatian Serb rebels who were part of the police of SAO Krajina in the village of Jesenice.
Their house was burnt to the ground and Modrić and his family were forced to live as refugees for seven years in the Hotel Kolovare. He later moved to the Hotel Iž where he was surrounded by sounds of exploding grenades and shattered glass.
When he was 6, his grandfather was shot dead.
His family became refugees, in a warzone.
He grew up to the sound of grenades exploding.
Coaches said he was too weak and too shy to play football.
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) July 11, 2018
He remembers it as a tough time in his life and football was his only escape from the terrible conflict which engulfed Croatia in the early-to-mid-nineties, MailOnline reports.
A spokesman for the Hotel Kolovare once stated:
He had broken more glass on the hotel windows than what the bombs had hit. He was playing non-stop football all around the hotel halls.
He also encountered obstacles on the pitch too, Croatian football team HNK Hajduk Split opted not to sign Modrić as they thought he was too young and lacked the muscle to cut it as a professional. Well, it looks like he made them eat their words because what followed was nothing short of amazing.
Starting off by signing to league rivals Dinamo Zagreb he became a three-time Croatian First League winner, two-time Croatian Cup winner and a Croatian Super Cup winner. He later moved to Tottenham Hotspur where he became an integral cog in the North London club’s resurgence, notching up 159 appearances.
Former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp described him as a:
… 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
In 2012 Modrić signed to Real Madrid where he quickly established himself in the first team under Carlo Ancelotti, and later Zinedine Zidane with whom he recently lifted the Champions League trophy for a historic third year in a row.
Last night’s semi-final win encapsulated the incredible journey he has taken with Croatia on the highest platform in international football.
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