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Luka Modrić ( ; born 9 September, 1985 in Zadarmarker) is a Croatianmarker football midfielder who currently plays for Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League and for the Croatian national team. He is capable of playing central midfield, attacking midfield and on the wing. His main traits are his acceleration, range of passing, vision and fantastic technique.

Modrić's childhood coincided with the Croatian War of Independence. After showing promise in hometown club Zadar's youth team, he was signed by Dinamo Zagreb as a teenager in 2002. His professional career began with loan spells at Zrinjski Mostar and Inter Zaprešić. While he was at Dinamo Zagreb they won three consecutive league titles and a number of domestic cups, resulting in Modrić being named the Prva HNL "Player of the Year" in 2007.

Club career

Early years

During the war, Modrić and his family lived in the town of Zatonmarker. At the age of six, he was forced to flee the area with his family due to the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. He lost his grandfather in the war while the family were living in a hotel in Zadar, with his father remaining in the army. Modrić began to play football under difficult circumstances before his father returned and used the little money the family had to enroll him in the local sporting academy. After displaying some talent, he went on to sign with Dinamo Zagreb as a 17 year old in 2002.

After a season with Dinamo Zagreb's youth side, he was loaned out in 2003 to Zrinjski Mostar in the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was during this time that he established his versatile style of play and becoming the Bosnian League Player of the Year while still just 18 years old. He later claimed that "someone who can play in the Bosnian league can play anywhere", referring to the physical demands of the league. The following year, he was again loaned out, this time to Inter Zaprešić in his home country. He spent only a single season with them, helping them earn promotion to the Croatian first league and gaining the Croatian Football Hope of the Year award in 2004. He was subsequently recalled by Dinamo Zagreb in 2005.

Dinamo Zagreb

Modrić then signed his first long-term contract with Dinamo until 2015. After a goal-less debut season, he managed to gain a place in Dinamo's first team, contributing to their league championship finish with seven goals in 31 matches. During this time, Modrić rapidly established his primary role as a playmaker or designated left winger in the 4-2-3-1 formation.

In the 2006-07 season, Dinamo again won the league with Modrić providing a similar contribution. He was also awarded the Prva HNL Player of the Year award. The following season, he led Dinamo's attempt to qualify for the UEFA cup. In the final playoff stage, Modrić converted a penalty in the away fixture against AFC Ajax in a game that eventually ended 1-1 pending extra time. Dinamo won the game 3-2 after a brace from teammate Mario Mandžukić secured their spot via away goals. However, Dinamo Zagreb failed to advance beyond the group stage.

At his last home game at Maksimir Stadiummarker with Dinamo, Modrić was given a standing ovation and supportive banners were displayed by the fans . He finished his six year tenure at Dinamo with 31 goals and 29 assists throughout four seasons, most notably contributing to a first place finish in the 2007-08 season as Dinamo became champions, this time by a twenty-eight point margin. They also won the Croatian cup in the same year.

Tottenham Hotspur

2008–09 season

Modrić agreed terms with Tottenham Hotspur on 26 April 2008 subject to receiving a work permit. He was the first of many summer signings for coach Juande Ramos, and also the Premier League's first summer transfer. After signing a six year contract which began in the summer of 2008, Tottenham confirmed that the total fee paid was £16.5 million, equalling the club's record fee set by Darren Bent's move in 2007.

Modrić made his debut for Tottenham on 28 July 2008 in a pre-season friendly against Norwich City. He played 45 minutes at Carrow Roadmarker during the 5-1 victory. His competitive debut was in the 2-1 loss against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadiummarker in Spurs' first match of the 2008-09 Premier League season on 16 August.

Originally, he had been deployed as a deep-lying playmaker in central midfield, normally alongside Jermaine Jenas, with the aim to utilise his footballing brain, consisting of his passing range, vision and creativity, most effectively. However, this backfired on then-manager Juande Ramos, and was subsequently wasted in this position as it also meant that his overall effect on the team was limited, as he was deployed in an extremely deep and disciplined role which his small frame was not used to (he was regarded as playing in a more advanced and attacking role from the left side for his former club and country), meaning he could not exert much of an influence on Spurs' matches, and such ill-management lead to Ramos' sacking and Tottenham's terrible start to the season. Modrić suffered from a niggling knee injury early in his Spurs career and had to endure being labelled "light-weight" from sections of the media, co-inciding with his poor form, making him even less effective and also leading to concerns from himself and Croatia manager Slaven Bilić.

However, since the appointment of current manager Harry Redknapp, Modrić has assumed a more familiar advanced and attacking role in the side, with his current position being as a left-sided midfielder, which has been a problem position for Tottenham in the past. In addition, he has also been deployed as the attacking-minded central midfielder in a two-man central midfield when another left-sided player plays as the left midfielder. For the first few months until the 2009 Winter transfer window, Modrić assumed a far more advanced role from his previous one, as a second striker behind one of Tottenham's only recognised first-team strikers in either Roman Pavlyuchenko or Darren Bent. This enabled Modric to have a far more attacking influence on the team and also utilise his footballing brain in a more productive capacity, and debuted in the thrilling 4-4 draw with arch rivals Arsenal on 26 October 2008. A beneficial example of this change was Modrić's impact for Tottenham's 4th and equalising goal; he collected the ball on his chest from Tom Huddlestone, and after a few controlled touches, unleashed a long-range half volley which, courtesy of a deflection, hit the post and set up Aaron Lennon for a tap-in. Since this performance, his form improved considerably for 'Spurs, which also coincided with his club's vastly improved form in the league. Redknapp, after a few months of his improved form and promise, had expressed the sheer importance of Modrić's value to his side, with plans to shape his new team around the Croatian playmaker.

Since the closure of the 2009 January transfer window in which Tottenham had re-signed strikers Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane, Modrić was then allowed to return to midfield while retaining his advanced and attacking edge on the team as a roaming left-sided midfielder. With the other major signing of tough-tackling Honduranmarker midfielder Wilson Palacios to bolster 'Spurs' central midfield, it meant that it allowed Modrić a new sense of freedom to attack, while other players such as Palacios would do the defensive duties in midfield. He also retained his former position from Dinamo Zagreb, meaning he could become even more effective. Once again, his performances have been very impressive of late, with some inspirational performances against Hull City, Stoke and most notably, a match-winning performance against Chelsea.

Modrić scored his first Tottenham goal in a 2-2 draw against Spartak Moscow during the UEFA Cup group stages on the 18 December 2008. He scored his first Premier League goal against Newcastle United in Spurs' next match, three days later.

2009–10 season

Ahead of the 2009-10 season, ex-Spurs captain Jamie Redknapp said of Modrić "[He's] a hell of a player and a manager’s dream, so I am told. He trains like a demon and never complains, will work with and without the ball on the field and can beat a defender with a trick or with a pass. He could get into any team in the top four and he’ll be even better this season."

On 29 August 2009, during Tottenham's 2-1 win over Birmingham City, Modrić was taken off injured with a suspected calf injury.The following day it was confirmed that Modrić had broken his leg, sustaining a fracture to his right fibula and is expected to be out for six weeks, however, on 31 October 2009 his manager Harry Redknapp delayed Modrić's return until the Tottenham match against Wigan on 22 November.

International career

Modrić's first international experience came at youth level, playing for the Croatian U-17, U-19 and under-21 team.

He made his senior international debut in a friendly victory against Argentina on 1 March 2006 in Baselmarker, Switzerlandmarker. At the 2006 World Cup, he made two substitute appearances in the group fixtures against Japan and Australia.

It was not until the appointment of new manager Slaven Bilić that Modrić earned recognition at international level, scoring his first goal in Croatia's 2-0 friendly win over Italy played on 16 August 2006 in Livornomarker. His performances ensured him a regular place in the international side, and he gave an impressive showing in Croatia's successful Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, which recorded home and away victories against England.

Much was expected of the young midfielder often dubbed "the Croatian Cruyff".

With high expectations, Modrić scored Croatia's first goal of Euro 2008, converting a penalty in the fourth minute of their 1-0 victory against Austria on 8 June 2008. It was the fastest penalty ever awarded and scored in European Championship history. He continued to impress at the tournament as he was named UEFA Man of the Match in their next game, in which Croatia defeated one of the pre-tournament favorites and eventual finalists Germany.

In the quarter-final against Turkey, Modrić took advantage of a mistake by the veteran Turkish goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber and managed to immediately cross the ball to teammate Ivan Klasnić, leading to the first goal of the game with only a minute remaining of extra time. However, Semih Şentürk equalised for Turkey almost immediately. With advancement based on a penalty shootout, Modrić failed to score the first penalty as his kick went off target. Turkey went on to win the shootout 3-1. At the end of the competition, Modrić was included in the UEFA Team of the Tournament, becoming only the second Croatian to ever achieve this honour - the first being Davor Šuker.

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
01. 16 August 2006 Stadio Armando Picchimarker, Livornomarker, Italymarker
0 – 2
0 – 2
Friendly
02. 7 October 2006 Maksimirmarker, Zagrebmarker, Croatiamarker
7 – 0
7 – 0
Euro 2008 qualifying
03. 7 February 2007 Kantridamarker, Rijekamarker, Croatiamarker
2 – 0
2 – 1
Friendly
04. 8 June 2008 Ernst Happel Stadionmarker, Viennamarker, Austriamarker
0 – 1
0 – 1
Euro 2008
05. 6 September 2008 Maksimirmarker, Zagrebmarker, Croatiamarker
2 – 0
3 – 0
2010 World Cup qualifying
06. 15 October 2008 Maksimirmarker, Zagrebmarker, Croatiamarker
3 – 0
4 – 0
2010 World Cup qualifying
07. 6 June 2009 Maksimirmarker, Zagrebmarker, Croatiamarker
2 – 2
2 – 2
2010 World Cup qualifying


Style of play

Modrić can play with both feet, combined with his swift offensive positioning off the ball. His complex game led him to constant success in the Croatian division, eventually leading to justifiable recognition as he was signed by Tottenham Hotspur in July 2008. His primary role is as a central playmaker as it allows him to combine his ability and sustain a controlled midfield. During his time at Dinamo Zagreb, he established his offensive suitability to play as a supporting attacker behind deep lying forwards, and eventually play his game towards his preferred left wing.On his introduction into the Croatian squad, Modrić linked up well with Niko Kovač as he also demonstrated his defensive ability. Often admiring his flexible ability, Bilić accomplished large success when experimenting with Modrić. Most notably however, Modrić formed what became called a "telepathic understanding" with Eduardo as they played together at Dinamo, Inter Zaprešić and the national team.

Honours

Individual



Club

Dinamo Zagreb

Tottenham Hotspur

References

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/premierleague/tottenham/3853343/Luka-Modric-puts-war-years-behind-him-at-Spurs.html
  2. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/article1792790.ece
  3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/7684610.stm
  4. http://www.metro.co.uk/sport/football/article.html?Ill_build_Spurs_team_around_Modric_and_Palacios,_insists_Redknapp&in_article_id=508217&in_page_id=43
  5. LUKA MODRIC COMEBACK SNAG
  6. Beckenbauer baffled by woeful Germany
  7. Euro 2008: Croatia 1-1 Turkey (1-3 penalties)
  8. Modrić in EURO's best team
  9. Croatia need Modrić confidence to spread
  10. Could tonights game decide the destination for Modrić?
  11. Could Modrić be reunited with Eduardo?


External links




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