In the last part of our series on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, we will talk about the best player in the outing of the world’s elite at Russia. The player to win, well, our crown, was one of the first 3 players we wrote a human-interest piece on. If you haven’t read that yet, maybe this article will convince you to. The midfield maestro became the first in 11 years to dethrone Messi and Ronaldo for the coveted Ballon D’Or. While many fans criticized the decision, Croatia’s historic run to the World Cup Finals and Real Madrid’s Champions League trophy in the same calendar year made it a hard decision to argue against.
We will not play the devil’s advocate today. Instead, we will highlight the magnificent outing Luka Modric had in the Russian summer, making him THE One to Remember. The 34-year old was a magical wizard at the heart of midfield, orchestrating crosses and leading the team by example – proudly donning the armband and representing the Croatian dream in Russia. He was the heart and soul of the chequered Reds and Whites. Modric had 2 assists and 1 goal to show for his heroic effort, but like most times in football, stats don’t do justice to what happens out there on the pitch.
A moment that defined what it meant for Modric was his penalty shootout miss against hosts, Russia at a crucial point in the quarters. The Madrid midfielder was in shock and covering his face in utter disappointment. His teammates came through especially goalkeeper, Lovre Kalinic. Of all the Croatians that mobbed their hero, Modric embraced the Aston Villa man a little tighter than the rest. In the next match, he was the engine was kept running relentlessly before breaking down England to stage a 2-1 comeback win.
The Croatian captain hardly missed a minute of his national team’s outing, clocking a whopping figure of 606 minutes on the pitch. Along with his compatriot from La Liga rivals, Ivan Rakitic, they bossed almost every opposition midfield they came across. With assistance from the likes of Rebic, Perisic, and Mandzukic, Croatia staged a record-breaking run to the finals – where they fell short to the glorious Les Bleus.
The award for the best player of the tournament – the Golden Ball – rightly went to Luka Modric. Despite close competition from Mbappe, registering a brace against Argentina at the Round of 16 stage and one in the finals, the jury couldn’t look beyond the Croatian. In what was a disappointing end to a magical journey, Croatia had rediscovered their place amongst the elites of football and for that, they will have to thank an elite himself – the little boy born in war-torn Zadar during the Bosnia war. The one and only – Luka Modric.