Evergreen Modric still pulling Croatia strings

Playmaker was at the heart of his country's blistering World Cup performances which earned him the 2018 Ballon d'Or

REUTERS May 27, 2021


Croatia's midfield maestro Luka Modric has reached the lion-in-winter stage of his career but Real Madrid's 35-year old playmaker somehow keeps turning back the clock for club and country on the big stage.

Modric has propelled Croatia's engine room throughout his international career dating back to 2006 and will need to do so again if the 2018 World Cup runners-up are to enjoy similar success at this year's European Championship.

Several long-serving stalwarts hung up their international boots after Croatia's impressive World Cup run in Russia but Modric stayed on to become his country's most capped player with 136 appearances.

Having joined Tottenham Hotspur from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008, Modric quickly grabbed the Premier League spotlight as one of the most versatile central midfielders in the game.

The playmaker's tireless running, even at this stage of his career, is matched by his close control and intricate passing ability while he also has an eye for goal when making runs behind the forwards.

Four excellent seasons at Spurs led to a 2012 move to Real Madrid where Modric has been indispensable throughout a trophy-laden spell which has yielded four Champions League triumphs and two Spanish league titles.

Modric got off to a slow start in Madrid but his ability eventually shone through and he became a key part of their star-studded squad, with Cristiano Ronaldo thriving in front of goal from the Croatian's selfless work.

Modric was also at the heart of Croatia's blistering World Cup performances which earned him the 2018 FIFA Player of the Year award and he soon allayed the fears of Croatia fans that the tournament might be his international swansong.

Croatia have rarely left Modric out of the starting lineup during his international career and his absence was usually glaringly obvious even against modest rivals.

With his gifted partner Ivan Rakitic calling time on his Croatia career in 2019, Modric faces a huge task to galvanise the team's midfield alongside enforcers Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic.

With the congested schedule of the 24-team tournament, Modric's age is likely to be a factor and he will need all the help he can get from his team mates to steer Croatia into the business end of the tournament.

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