The Young Refugee that never gave up.
Yesterday evening, Luka Modric experienced mixed feelings during the World Cup final, as his nation fell to a dire defeat against France, yet his efforts during the tournament were appreciated as he was awarded The Golden Ball for being the best player of the tournament.
However, whilst the Croatian might be the best midfielder in the world right now, his path to the top of the footballing pyramid was not easy. During his childhood he had to endure the atrocities of the Croatian War of Independence, and at the age of just six he had to leave his hometown. Apart from this, his father had to join the army whilst his grandfather was killed by rebels, and his home was burnt down, forcing him to live alone with his mother and his siblings, as they became refugees and had to live in a hotel for seven years. Luka's only way of escaping the harsh realities of war was through football. As he grew up, his constant practicing in the streets and in parking lots served him well, as he enrolled in a sporting academy with the little money that his family had saved up.
Eventually his ability was noticed by academies in Croatia, as he was accepted in training camps held by NK Zadar. However, he had to experience another set-back, after the Croatian giants Hajduk Split rejected him for being to young and too small in stature, however after some training camps in Italy, Tomislav Basic got Modric a chance to play for Dinamo Zagreb. Although he was initially loaned out, the youngster managed to be named as the Boznian and Herzegovinian Player of the Year at the tender age of just 18. After another season out on loan, Modric was awarded with a long-term contract with Dinamo Zagreb, with him using the money to buy his family a flat to live in, as he established himself as a starter for the team. Modric won several Player of the Year awards afterwards, and was even called up to the national team as they went on their World Cup campaign in 2006. After an excellent final season with Dinamo Zagreb and a thrilling Euro 2008 run that saw him named in the Team of the Tournament, Modric moved to Tottenham Hotspur where he would truly make his mark.
Although he did not manage to win a trophy with Tottenham, he shined throughout his spell there, establishing himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. He was named Spurs' Player of the Year in 2010-11 and he continued to be the Croatian Player of the Year. His excellent displays in the Premier League earned him a move to European giants Real Madrid, where he became an integral part of their team. Ever since he moved to the Los Blancos, Modric has won on La Liga, the Copa Del Rey once, the Spanish Super Cup twice, the UEFA Champions League a remarkable four times, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup three times each. He has also managed to be named in the La Liga Team of the Season once, the FIFPro World XI three times, the UEFA Champions League Team of the Season four times and has also been given the award for the best midfielder of the whole La Liga twice.
Therefore, Luka Modric might have had a tough pill to swallow yesterday after missing out on the World Cup crown, yet the tough start to his career has been outweighed by the incredible player that he has become today.