Luka Modric: The child of the wooden shinpads

Luka Modric is now a recognized player in the spotlight of Real Madrid. But his history and his childhood are not based on the typical discourse of effort and 'it was not easy', but there was a war and that is too much important for a child.

Luka Modric 10 years old (Zadar)
Luka Modric (Zadar)

Luka was born in 1985 and the Balkan War broke out in 1991. He was six years, a crucial age for his future. His father, Stipe, enlisted in the conflict as a soldier in the Croatian Army. His grandfather was killed by Serbs near his home in Obrovac. So his mother took all their belongings and fled with him to Zadar. There, in the Kolovare Hotel, he spent some months in which he only had the company of the ball: "He played all day and broke more windows with his ball than the bombs of the war", says one of the receptionists of the hotel.

Football was his dream and so he was close to sign for Hajduk Split, one of the legendary Croatian clubs when was eight years old. He spent two weeks playing for Hadjuk and, after a tournament in Italy, was discarded. He returned to Zadar with his mother and that's when his true discoverer turns up, Tomislav Basic, head of the Zadar youth teams. Luka was 10 years old. Modric's family survived as they could. Basic says: "They were very poor. They had no money for shirts or shinpads for Luka. So I did some of wood". These shinpads still exist. Basic have it: "I kept it because I knew Modric would become a great player".

Curiously, Tomislav Basic says that Modric does not like remembering these moments of his life: "It is true that sometimes Luka has bothered to remember this. But I think it's part of his life and has to be proud of where he comes from". The player does not talk much about it, indeed. The last time he did, emphasized that: "The war made ​​me stronger. Were very hard times for me and my family. I do not want to drag this issue forever, but I do not want to forget about it. Now I have the feeling I am ready for anything"

In Zadar, after going through several schools, Modric was signed in 2003, 16 years old, by Dinamo Zagreb, the club sent him to stardom. But first, the war would make him suffer again. Luka had to spend a year doing the military service. He went to Mostar, where interestingly the Spanish army helped to rebuild the area. He played that season in the Bosnian League (Zrinjski). He was the best player of the tournament, obviously. His subsequent history is known. The Spanish coach Juande Ramos signed him for 22 million euros for Tottenham team from where he wants to move to the Spanish league.

Real Madrid is probably his next stop, although all major European teams are fighting for him. Now Modric is waiting for news while relaxing on the Adriatic coast, where every day dreams of winning the Champions League, as well as Real Madrid.

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