Real Madrid stalwart Luka Modrić is without question, one of the greatest midfielders of all time. Considered as the greatest Croatian footballer in history, the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is also the runner up of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where he clinched the Golden Ball. Add to that, two La Liga and a whopping four UEFA Champions League triumphs, Modrić’s honours go on forever. All that said, the Croat still recalls his childhood, a war-torn childhood of alarms and bombs.
Born in little hamlet of Modrići, belonging to the country of SFR Yugoslavia, the childhood of Luka Modrić consisted of football, and the Croatian War of Independence. His grandfather Luka was shot dead by the Serb rebels, after which they had to flee the village.
After taking refuge in a hotel in Zadar, the frequent bombing of the city became a part of Modrić’s infancy, a memory that he still remembers to this day.
However, the Croat claims those dark days shaped him as a human beings, those traumatic moments of the sounding of alarm and shelling that was a constant in the city.
It meant everything to me: Football was the medicine of Luka Modrić’s war-torn youth
Speaking exclusively to AFP, Luka Modrić remembered how he always kept the ball close to him, just like he does today as a Galactico.
“I was with it all the time. When I went to the shelter I took it with me and I played with my friends, with everyone. I organised games. It meant everything to me,” Modrić said in the interview.
The future world famous footballer, who started his career in the youth academy of NK Zadar, practiced his shooting on windows and cars. His father Stipe Modrić, who served in the Croatian Army as an aeromechanic, was the one bearing the expenses.
“I broke so many windows at the hotel and of people’s cars, everyone was always mad at me,” the 34 year old went on, “My father had to pay for it. It was expensive.”
The alarm, the fear, it was all normal for Modrić
During the Battle of Zadar in 1991, the city had built many bomb shelters. The friengtening sound of the alarm and running to the shelters was something that a young Modrić was habituated.
“I remember the fear. We played football and the alarms went off. It was normal,” he added.
A promising youngster, Modrić later joined Dinamo Zagreb Academy in 2000, and started his senior career there three years later. In 2008, Tottenham Hotspur picked the talented young Croatian, where he spent four years before flying to the Spanish capital in 2012. The rest is history.