The Croatian legend has identified the key ingredient without which Real Madrid would not have won La Decima, a tenth Champions League trophy that arrived exactly twelve years after the La Liga giants claimed a ninth triumph.
For more than a decade, Los Blancos chased after La Decimal fruitlessly with even Jose Mourinho falling short despite making the semifinals on three occasions. However, Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti arrived afterwards and delivered a trophy that would kickstart a golden era in Real Madrid’s history.
In the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League final against Atletico Madrid, Diego Godin handed Diego Simeone’s men a first half lead but a late, late Sergio Ramos header – the most important of his career – off a Modric corner, salvaged a chance of victory for Real Madrid. Los Merengues went on to win the tie 4-1 in extra time.
Luka Modric, regarded as the greatest Croatian footballer of all-time, has now suggested Ramos goal and a change in mentality were key to Real eventually landing their first Champions League trophy since Zinedine Zidane’s stunning volley beat Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow in 2002.
“It’s difficult to make such judgements, I don’t know,” Modric was quoted by Marca as observed by Soccernet.ng when asked if without Ramos’ goal in Lisbon, everything that came after would have happened.
“It may be the case that this goal changed the history of European football. Real Madrid had already won a lot of trophies, but they hadn’t lifted the Champions League trophy for 12 years.
“This goal changed something, the mentality changed. From that moment we started to be very strong in Europe and teams were afraid of us again.
“That shows how important mentality is in football. People had spent 12 years talking about La Decima and it became a mental thing. Mourinho went to three semi-finals and it was hard to overcome this mental barrier.
“When we reached the final and to win it with that goal, it still gives me goosebumps, we showed such strong character and never gave up.
Last year, Luka Modric won a bagload of awards including the Golden, the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award, the Best FIFA Men’s Player Award, as well as the Ballon d’Or due to his club, and national team performancesnat the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It was the first time since 2008 and 2014 that the awards were not won by Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
When asked whether the prizes where a recognition of a great year or his value over his playing career, Modric responded:
“I think both. It has been a recognition of my entire career, but a very special year in particular. I was lucky enough to win the Champions League again, which isn’t easy, and I also reached the World Cup final with a country like Croatia, which for us is something that words just can’t describe.
“I don’t like to talk about myself, but I think that, in the individual sense, I played a very good season and the footballing people have recognised that.
“It’s no coincidence when so many people vote for you.”