Amid all the nimble legs rushing to the goal post in Russia this World Cup, one pair attracted more attention than others – the pair carrying an almost anaemic looking Croat with a gaunt face and child-like demeanour. You knew then that he was up to some more grand standing besides taking his nation to the first ever FIFA World Cup Final. True to form, Luka Modric ended an era of domination by world football mascots Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who tied at 5 each FIFA titles in various garbs to monopolise the decade as best players.
Luka, who played alongside Ronaldo for the Spanish club Real Madrid, was often overshadowed by the Portuguese’s dazzling goal scoring acumen but at 33, he has done enough to justify reaching this coveted pedestal. Besides taking his club to a third straight Champions League title, he also took Croatia to the final frontier in the game’s biggest stage.
As sparks rise in a jiffy, eras too end in hurry and the Messi-Ronaldo one was long waiting to splinter. Luka’s worth shows up even more as he scored over the Brazilian Neymar who is slowly fading into irrelevance, attracting more mimes than claps, thanks to his injury antics on field. At 33, in football, and from a nation that was not exactly a star of the game, it is just the perfect post script that this blond Croatian could have written for himself, that too as a middle of the career feather in the cap.