Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Luka Modric - A Croatian Ruling England



The biggest prize in Premier League is of course – winning the Title, but that battle is being fought between the clubs with squillons of riches ( Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea). The next best prize is 4th place which leads to the Champions League. Among the clubs which are competing for such achievement is Tottenham Hotspur and Croatian center midfielder Luka Modric is the driving force behind this team.

The 26-year-old Modric can pass, he can score, he can dribble and fool the opponent with incredible lightness.

From Zadar to FC Dinamo Zagreb

Luka Modric was born on 9 September 1985 in the coastal town of Zadar. Growing up in a family of an aircraft technician father and a textile worker mother during the Croatian War of Independence, Luka initially showed his indisputable talent for playing football in hometown club Zadar's youth team. As a teenager, he caught the attention of most successful Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb, for which he signed in 2002. However, his career began with loan spells at Bosnian club Zrinjski Mostar.

Playing against physically much stronger opponents, 16-year old Luka Modric learned a lot and even managed to earned the honour of Bosnian Player of the Year. Next season he returned to Croatia, again on loan, with Inter Zapresic, helping this club to reach the second place in the league.

Meanwhile, in Dinamo they finally decided to give Modric opportunity he deserved. Over the next three seasons he proved himself as the genuine team's playmaker. His team won three league titles in a row (2006, 2007 and 2008) and two Croatian Cup wins (2007 and 2008) while Luka himself became Player of the Year 2007. He also earned comparison to legendary Dinamo's No 10 Robert Prosinecki and Zvonimir Boban.

Croatian national team

In March 2006. Luka Modric made his debut for the national team. During the World Cup in Germany the same year, Modric didn't get much chance to play. However, a few months later Slaven Bilic took a position of a new manager of Croatian national team, which resulted with Luka playing each game from the first minute. Soon after scoring his first international goal, in a friendly match against Italy (0:2), he established his role of irreplaceable central midfielder.

In the EURO 2008 Croatia won matches against Austria, Germany and Poland in the group stage and faced Turkey in quarterfinals. Luka Modric scored a penalty kick against Austria, but unfortunately missed the first penalty in the ensuing penalty shootout against Turkey. However, at the end of the competition, Luka's overall brilliant playing earned him a place in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

Tottenham Hotspur

Just before the EURO 2008 Luka signed his first contract with the Tottenham Hotspur. The initial games in one of the toughest league in the world weren't easy for a slim and small player (5'8''). Everyone started to doubt his ability to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League.

Luka Modric has seen that before: ‘My whole career, when I was in Croatia, people questioned me, saying I wouldn’t make it, that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t big and strong. But you have to understand something about Croatian people. After everything that has happened, after the war, we are stronger, tougher', he stated in his interview to Daily Mail in May 2011.

Negative comments only made him more eager to prove they were wrong. His big chance came after Harry Redknapp was appointed as a new Spurs manager in October 2008. Modrić was given advanced attacking role as a central or left-sided midfielder, the role in which he could gain more confidence and give better performances – which he did.

Luka Modric often showed his strength was in his legs, especially in the meaty calves. Unfortunately, on 29 August 2009, during Spurs' match against Birmingham City, Modrić was injured and the following day it was confirmed that he had broken his leg. Recovery dragged a little bit but it went well at the end so four months later, during the London derby against West Ham United, he was able to score with his healed leg.

The 2010–11 season was much luckier for Luka Modric, as he played 32 Premier League games, scored 3 goals and made the highest average number of passes per game for Spurs. At the end of the season, Modders, as Tottenham Hotspur Fans nicknamed him, was voted Player of the Year. Another recognition came when Premier League Footballer of the Year, Scott Parker (then player of West Ham), declared him the toughest opponent he had faced.

Transfer to Chelsea controversy

Although Luka seemed happy on White Hart Lane, playing with his Croatian teammates Vedran Corluka and Niko Kranjcar, in the summer of 2011 he shocked the world of football saying he would like to get a transfer to Chelsea. Spurs' town rival made several bids, the last one allegedly worth 50 million euros, but Tottenham president Daniel Levy rejected them all.

Disappointed Modric reminded him of their 'gentleman's agreement' that Spurs would accept offers from a 'big club'. Luka even went on a strike, refusing to play few matches, but still – Chelsea was out of reach.

After the transfer window was closed, Luka Modric managed to focus on his playing and scored his first goal of the season in a 4-0 home win against Liverpool, one of the biggest rival for the coveted fourth position.

Harry Redknapp once said: 'I wouldn't want to sell him for £100 million, not even for a billion' but there is a concern in the club that Chelsea will return for Modric in January, offering even more incredible sum of money.

Modric's private life

No wonder each club is eager to sign the contract with Luka. After all, which team wouldn't want a player who's always first to show up on training, delivers stunning performances and lives a quiet family life, without scandals?

Luka Modric married his longtime girlfriend Vanja in May 2010 and only a month later they become parents for the first time. 'I’m not interested in things away from my family and football. Not a day goes by when I don’t speak to my parents and my two sisters back home and I only ever try to do the best I can on the football pitch', he said to Daily Mail.

Modric came a long way from a small town boy who admired Brazilian Ronaldo ('the real Ronaldo' as he noted) and had a gift for playing football to one of the most praised player of Premier League and respectable Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs. So is that it? Knowing Luka, his determination and defiance, we can only conclude: no, the best things are yet to follow.

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