Dearest Darling Friends,
In the war between Serbia and Croatia, in 1991, an old man was executed in cold blood, for being a Croatian. The old man was fond of his grandson, then 6 years old who shared his name, Luka Modric. After his grandfather was murdered, Luka’s family’s house was burned down. He had to leave his village and his home and his friends. All he carried with him was his football He grew up when the Balkan war was at its peak. He played football in the hotel park, in the corridors with friends, and sometimes alone.
That small boy took his team to the finals of world-cup football this year. He is no Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar, or someone who attracts the limelight. But, he has the unique ability to make his colleagues better players. His presence does not inhibit his team but frees their enthusiasm. His style does not overshadow others, it enhances theirs.
The Argentinian legend Jorge Valdano writes about him…” watching him play against Russia was like – This is how you play football. This is how you FEEL football.” In that game vs Russia, he was the MOST fouled player.
When he wanted to join the club he supported – Hajduk Split, he was rejected saying he was too slight.
Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Barcelona rejected him saying he was too small and fragile.
When he signed for Real Madrid, the fans turned him down. He was voted as the worst La Liga signing.
“My whole career people have questioned me. They have said, I won’t make it. I wasn’t good enough for I was not big and strong. It just gave me an extra incentive. I wanted to prove them wrong”, he told the Daily Mail back then.
I liked the way France played with agility, speed and strategy and felt that overall they were a better team. I also believe, with their complete style of play, France deserved to win.
I do not believe in spirits or ghosts yet I wished Croatia to win this world-cup and had prayed that Luka Modric, the grandfather would be there from the heavens, watching his grandson, Luka Modric, lifting the world cup.
Well, things did not happen that way. And yet, World Cup 2018, for me would always be remembered for Luka Modric and the hope that I carried in my heart for him.
As a consolation for me, Modric won man-of-the-match three times in Croatia’s seven games in Russia and then went on to win the Golden Ball for the World Cup’s BEST player award. He is my hero of World Cup Football 2018.
With lots of love and deep gratitude,
Imagine, when we wake up, we are given only what we had thanked for.