Luka Modric’s glorious 2018 received the ultimate recognition – and secured his place in history – when he received the Ballon d’Or, and ending Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s 10-year dominance.
Modric – the first ‘new’ winner since Brazil great Kaka in 2007 – has had an exceptional 12 months. He was instrumental in helping his club, Real Madrid, win a third consecutive Champions League in May and then became the heartbeat in the Croatia team that reached the World Cup final.
1. He was born in the village of ‘Modrici’
2. He was caught up in the ‘Croatian War of Independence’
Obviously, Modric was far too young to ever actually play a role in the conflict, but he has horrifying memories of the war nonetheless. In 1991, when Modric was just six-years-old, the area in which he was born was captured by local Croatian Serb rebels and his grandfather was murdered by them in cold blood when attending to the cattle.
3. Carlo was his favourite
During his tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu, Modric has worked under the stewardship of four different managers; Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez and, currently, Zinedine Zidane. Despite recently praising the Frenchman for his work at the club, the Croatian admitted in an interview with the BBC last year that Ancelotti remains the best manager he has played under.
4. Football and Family are what matter to him
The only thing which surpasses football in Luka’s mind is his family.
He has 3 children and married Vanja Bosnic in Zagreb in 2010 following four years of dating.
5. He was named in FARE’s ‘Euro 2016 Refugee XI’
Last year, the anti-discrimination football network known as ‘FARE’ put together a line-up of players who were formerly refugees to celebrate ‘World Refugee Day’. The team also included the likes of brothers Granit and Taulant Xhaka, Christian Benteke and Xherdan Shaqiri.
6. He idolised Ronaldo from a young age
The Croatian claimed that growing up, his first pair of shin pads had a picture of Ronaldo on them.
7. His physique nearly let him down
Since Modric has only grown to 5’9” there’s an advantage to such a small frame, the Croatian possesses the agility and low centre of gravity aiding him in eluding opponents.