Modric set for international swan song at Euro 2024

football05 June 2024 03:33| © AFP
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Luka Modric © Gallo Images

Luka Modric, Croatia's star midfielder and the guiding force behind the country's recent football successes, will lead the squad at Euro 2024 in what will likely be his final act on the international stage.

Modric, who turns 39 in September, is continuing to negotiate a new contract with Real Madrid after winning a sixth Champions League on Saturday.

"Luka secured the status of the best Croatian football player in history a long time ago.

"With his sixth European Championship title, he entered football history as one of the greatest players of this football era", head of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) Marijan Kustic said in a statement.

Modric led Croatia to the final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and third place at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

The midfielder was also instrumental in taking Croatia to the Nations League final last year, where they lost to Spain.

For Euro 2024, Modric will be returning to Germany, where he played in his first big tournament with the national team at the 2006 World Cup, just months after his Croatia debut.

He has played 174 matches for Croatia and scored 24 goals.

Modric remains beloved for remaining humble amid his soaring success.

The midfielder grew up as a refugee in Zadar on the Dalmatian coast during the 1990s independence war.

Following the end of the fighting, Modric left Zadar and later played for Dinamo Zagreb in 2000 and then joined English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur in 2008.

In 2012, Modric signed on with Real Madrid, where he has remained ever since.


Modric's image was briefly tarnished after he was charged with perjury during the multi-million-euro corruption trial of Dinamo Zagreb's powerful former chief Zdravko Mamic in 2018.

But anger over the incident largely evaporated following the second place World Cup finish, while prosecutors eventually dropped the case due to a lack of evidence.

Despite the 4-2 defeat by France in the World Cup final in Russia, more than 500 000 people gave Modric and his team a heroic welcome home on their return to Zagreb.

In 2018, Modric won the Ballon d'Or, football's most coveted award, for his role in Croatia's World Cup success and Real Madrid's third-straight Champions League trophy.

Experts have long praised Modric for his physical fitness along with the endless energy he brings to the pitch despite his age.

"He can hardly wait to play for Croatia and be our leader," coach Zlatko Dalic told reporters in late May.

"Modric plays for the national team because it still needs him, because he is irreplaceable in it and because he cares about it," Croatian daily Vecernji List wrote in an editorial.

The paper called Modric's upcoming appearance on the pitch during the Euro 2024 one of the "most anticipated football moments" of the year.

Croatia fans will "most likely ... witness the curtain fall on one of the most impressive careers of a football player in the national jersey", the paper added.

Croatia is set to square off against Spain in their opening Group B match on June 15, before playing Balkan rival Albania and current European champions Italy.

Modric has yet to officially comment on his future with the national team, called the "Fiery Ones" (Vatreni in Croatian).