- Luka Modric is the captain of Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia side
- The coach was also a nominee at The Best FIFA Football Awards
- “He’s a true professional and a role model”
The plaudits keep on coming. Following his crowning as last season’s outstanding player at The Best FIFA Football Awards, the whole world seems to have been paying tribute to Luka Modric.
If there is anyone who knows the creative midfielder’s talents inside out then it is Zlatko Dalic, the coach who drew on Modric’s magical abilities to oversee Croatia’s successful run at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
We spoke exclusively with Dalic to find out a little more about the supremely gifted central midfielder.
FIFA.com: What can you tell us about Luka Modric and his importance to your team?
Zlatko Dalic: He’s our captain, the most important player in our team, and he’s won every trophy there is to win with Real Madrid. What he needed was a big result with the national team and he got it this year with that second place at the World Cup. He was the team’s leader, a real captain, giving his all the whole time. He deserves all the praise and awards that have come his way. He’s also a great person, a great professional and he’s in the form of his life.
What can you tell us about Modric the person?
He’s very down to earth and he’s always ready to talk and to listen to what others have to say. He has a fantastic relationship with his team-mates and he’s my right-hand man in the national team. I don’t think you can be a great player if you’re not a fully rounded person, if you don’t behave like a man off the pitch. That’s why, to my mind, he’s the type of player that the fans love. He’s a true professional.
Do you think he deserved to be crowned The Best?
Absolutely. He totally deserved it. He was the best player at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, and then he won the UEFA Champions League and took Croatia to second place at the World Cup, where he was the most outstanding player of the tournament. What more can you ask for? I know that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best players in the world, but this is Luka Modric’s year.
What does his award and your nomination for The Best FIFA Men’s Coach award mean for Croatia?
We’re a small country but we dream big. We have a population of four million and we had two people nominated for The Best. That’s pretty incredible, and I can tell you that the whole of Croatia is very proud of that. We express the talent and the abilities of the Croatian people and we do our country proud in representing it.
You’ve had a year to remember, but what’s next for you, Luka and Croatia?
We went all the way and it will be difficult to top that, not least because there's so much competition, both around the world and in Europe. We’ll give it our best shot, though. Obviously there’s a lot of pressure on Croatia. The fans expect more every time and I’ve got no idea how we’re going to go out and top this. I do feel, though, that this is a team that could do really well again at the next Euros. I know we can play well, be competitive and give the people of Croatia another reason to celebrate again.