By Rashmi Goel

A great player's departure should be felt with sadness. Croatia's 37-year-old fulcrum, Luka Modric, will never ignite another World Cup. Now would seem to be a good time to honor Modric. The presence of Modric graced England. Additionally, he performed well in the Premier League as well. After winning six trophies with Dinamo Zagreb, Tottenham Hotspur manager Juande Ramos signed Modric. Although he played for Lilywhite for only four seasons, his influence and impact will last a lifetime.

The Croatian midfielder quickly became a talismanic figure in the Premier League despite his 5'8" frame. In the summer of 2012, Modric left Real Madrid for the Bernabeu. He was joined by Bale in 2013. A glimpse of greatness had been glimpsed, but the opportunity was lost. Premier League's loss was La Liga's gain. Real Madrid's fans were never quite smitten with Bale, despite his achievements and moments of brilliance. He was viewed as uncaring and superstar-like. Modric, on the other hand, was a quiet legend. The Croatian midfielder rose to prominence solely based on the quality of his play. A key player in five Champions League triumphs, Modric started every final he played in. In spite of his age, he made his debut for Los Blancos against Liverpool in the 2022 showpiece. In his 454 appearances for the club, Modric has also won three La Liga titles and a host of other domestic and continental awards.

While he was legendary at two clubs, he was even bigger internationally. His appearance in Croatia's opening game at this World Cup marked the first time in history that a player has appeared at both a European Championship and a World Cup in three different decades. Ten years later, he was the catalyst for his nation's greatest achievement, which took them to the quarterfinals of Euro 2008. In 2018, Modric shone as Croatia reached the World Cup final. Against Russia, he was a man of the match in extra time. During Croatia's semi-final win over England, he covered more ground than any other player. Despite their loss to France in the final, Modric's incredible tournament performance was rewarded with the FIFA Golden Ball.

Achieving the 2018 Ballon d'Or would be the next challenge for the midfield creator. Since Kaka in 2007, no player outside of the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo axis had been awarded the ultimate individual award. Since then, only one player has won the award, Karim Benzema. In an era dominated by Messi and Ronaldo, Modric achieved briefly the status of the world's best, which is a true tribute to his greatness. Although Modric is one of the most evergreen players, it is unlikely that we will see him at the 2026 World Cup at the age of 41. Real Madrid fans will be able to enjoy his work for a little while longer as he remains an ever-present in the team. Nonetheless, as the best player of this generation prepares to play in the World Cup final, it seems appropriate to recognize the man who stood alongside both him and Ronaldo. The era will always be defined by two players in particular. Nonetheless, if there is a bronze medal slot available on the podium, it should be awarded to Luka Modric.

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