Luka Modric was born in Zadar, Croatia back in 1985 not wearing a headband. He was brought up in a village in the southern slopes of Velebit, and didn’t go through an ideal childhood given that he had to flee his home during the Croatian War of Independence in 1991. Unbelievably, the boy grew up to become the greatest professional football player in the history of Croatia. He is one of the most decorated players in the game, and respected by fellow players and all fans from around the world. Throughout the years, as we see him take off his headband, he conducts a post-match interview, as a champion, a man of the match winner, as a true leader on the football pitch, an image we have been so used to seeing of late.
Luka Modric is certainly smaller than the average footballer, standing up at 5ft 8 inches tall, but his height has only benefited him to become the player that he is, and not hindered him in any way. Ever since his early years, Modric has had exceptional abilities to dribble, pass, shoot and tackle, and those skills have improved throughout his career. The Croatian is nimble, possesses excellent balance and can cover every piece of grass on the field. He can pass any distance, of any difficulty, with cuteness and precision, and most importantly, consistency. A ball fails to go astray, and always meets the receiver. He can tackle his opponents, slide, use his body well, as he breaks up play and starts his own move. Shooting has never been an issue, unlike other playmakers, he doesn’t lack any goal threat, scoring all types of goals including long distance strikes and curlers, bending into the far corner, with the opposition goalkeeper hopeless. As the years go on, with more experience gained, the reason he came one of the best was due to his temperament. He controlled games. When to slow a game down, when to pick up the pace, and using his know-how to get his teams over the line. He didn’t get frustrated, lash out, and lower his performance levels when it got tough. Just like when he overcome his long locks with his headband, he’d overcome any obstacle that came in his way.
In his youth, Luka Modric was playing for Dinamo Zagreb until the year 2008. His performances for this club brought him into the set-up for Croatia, and he actually played in the game that knocked England out of the European Championship qualifying back in November 2007. International and club performances attracted interest from the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. Luckily for Spurs fans, it was the latter who he opted to choose for. In four seasons at the club, after a somewhat slow start with knee injuries, he started to prove that he was a special talent. He was one of the reason’s Tottenham propelled and made it into the Champions League, and along with Gareth Bale, he was indispensable to the club. Luka Modric had expressed interest into moving to a ‘great club’, and they do not come any bigger than Real Madrid. Despite another slow start, Luka Modric worked his way into the first 11 on a regular basis, and then became quite literally, an unsung hero. Whilst many pundits would look at Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, it was Luka Modric who was often overlooked, and under-appreciated. However, there will be a time he will get the plaudits he has always merited.
The Croatian playmaker has been fantastic throughout his career, but just like fine wine, he got better when ageing. From the age of 29 to now, he has won four Champions League trophies, the Spanish League, World Club Championships, lead his national team to the World Cup final, won the Golden Ball, and became a Ballon d'Or winner. His whole career, he was likened to former Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff, mainly due to looks, but no one had thought he would emulate anywhere near the same type of success. But he did. Just like Ronaldinho and early Lionel Messi successes, a player with a headband has proven to be the best footballer in the world once again. A midfield maestro that can considered one of the greatest footballers of all time.