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In an era which has been dominated by the duel between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it is always refreshing to see another player earn one of the game’s biggest personal prizes, and in 2018, those accolades were befitted to Luka Modric.

That year saw the diminutive Croatian lead his team to a World Cup final. Although they were eventually bested by France, the efforts of the Real Madrid player did not go unnoticed by football’s global fraternity. In a season in which Croatia nearly ruled the world and Real Madrid continued their vice-like grip of the Champions League, it comes as no surprise that Modric was the fulcrum of both star-studded outfits. 

Because of such an impressive showing during the length of the 2017/18 campaign, his outstanding performances for both club and country subsequently enabled Modric to win a litany of personal awards.  Although there was disappointment in not helping Croatia to a first ever World Cup success, the blow was at least softened by his winning of FIFA’S Golden Ball trophy – an award that signifies the best player of the tournament.

Months later, Modric would be awarded for his Champions League winning performances, as the midfielder was named as both UEFA’S Men’s Player Of The Year and FIFA’S The Best Men’s Player for 2018. If the now 35-year-old was regarded as a special talent, his output in 2018 saw him labelled as a complete midfielder. Although he can operate well in a number 10 role, his defensive capabilities add another string to his already highly skilled bow.

This ability to dominate in a multitude of central roles means that he acts as a pivotal point for either Real Madrid or Croatia. By controlling play with an almost metronomic tempo, he can allow his teammates to shine. That’s not to say Modric is underrated himself - far from it. When you consider that he is currently in his ninth season in the Spanish capital of Madrid, it only highlights how important he has become to the team’s success.

While it is Madrid that has given the man a chance to shine, it is fair to say that the Premier League was where he cut his teeth. Although it took a while to settle into Tottenham colors, his departure is one that is still felt in North London now.

After first making the move from his homeland, Modric was deployed in an unusual left wing role by then Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp. Not playing him in a central position made little sense on the face of it. However, it actually served the player better in the long run. This is because if he was thrown into the hustle and bustle of a Premier League game, it would have meant making a much quicker transition in the center of the park and that could have been overwhelming early on.

Therefore, by deploying his slight of frame out wide, it gave the former Tottenham star an opportunity to find his feet in a much more competitive league and once adjusted, he could fill the slot of his favored position with relative ease. A plan that ultimately proved dividends for Tottenham, as the Croatian played a huge part in the North Londoners climb up the Premier League table, and one that would eventually see the club play in the Champions League.

It was his part in Tottenham’s ascension that eventually landed him on the radar of Real Madrid’s scouting department. When Real Madrid wants to add another Galactico to their collection, they always get their man in the end.

After swapping White Hart Lane for the Santiago Bernabeu, Modric reached another echelon that neither he nor anyone else knew he had. After acclimating into life in La Liga, the transformation to midfield icon was soon complete.

Like all greats who are currently playing, his time will not be forever. With that said, what a career it has been. These men give it their all. In the end, they’re building a legacy we have all enjoyed a piece of, and this is what makes them legends.

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