Sunday, 10 October 2021

Zlatko Dalić Reveals Changes in Croatia Starting 11 against Slovakia

October 10, 2021 - Zlatko Dalić addressed the press in Osijek on Sunday with captain Luka Modrić. The coach announced how the Croatia starting 11 against Slovakia would look, especially with the absence of Mateo Kovačić. 

A crucial 2022 World Cup qualifying match awaits the Croatia national team on Monday at 20:45 at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. Croatia will face Slovakia in the 8th round of qualifications for the World Cup in Qatar. A possible victory would keep them in first place in the group ahead of the last two rounds held in November.

Two days ago, Croatia beat Cyprus 3:0 on the road and thus continued a series of winning results and a game without conceding a goal. Croatia is currently tied with Russia, which plays against Slovenia in Maribor on Monday.

Zlatko Dalić, as well as captain Luka Modrić, appeared before the press in Osijek at 17:00 at the final press conference before the match against Slovakia. Croatia's last training at City Garden is scheduled for 17:30. 

"We have to respect Slovakia; they are a top national team and can be tough. It doesn't matter who will play for them; we have to be good," said coach Zlatko Dalić at the beginning.

"Our goal is to win as many points as possible and secure a place in the World Cup. We know how much tomorrow's game means to us, perhaps the most important qualifying match. Russia has a difficult visit to Slovenia. This is a chance for us to get closer to Qatar with the victory," Dalić added.

Dalić announced changes in the defense, despite a good performance in recent games.

"We haven't conceded a goal in six games, but tomorrow is an important exam. As good as we were in Cyprus, it was not a benchmark. Tomorrow is a situation where we must not receive pain. We will make changes in the lineup, but not because someone played badly, but we want even more energy. We will put in a couple of fresh players; some of our players are not standard, so it is difficult to repeat two games in three days. Vida is returning to his position," Dalić explained and praised Osijek player Mile Škorić.

"He deserved the invitation, but the competition is great for him. So we will see; I would like the situation to open up for him," Dalić added.

"I am looking forward to the competition in the national team, players who bring new energy and strength. We have to confirm this to get continuity. Everyone works well, and whoever I play, I will not make a mistake," said the Croatia coach, who added that the atmosphere is good because the results and overall team play are good.

"The result dictates everything; we play well, so the atmosphere is great. What makes us happy is the atmosphere and the result; the atmosphere was not worse at the Euros, but the result was missing."

Mate Kovačić will not play due to yellow cards.

"Pašalić will replace him; he will go to his position. Because he is good in the end, and we miss such a player, he has the best of all players, so there is no dilemma. Pašalić will start," said Dalić and added that Duje Ćaleta-Car will not start from the first minute.

Source: HRT

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Sunday, 10 October 2021

Croatia Match-Worn Jerseys Up for Auction after Slovakia Qualifier

October 10, 2021 - Fans can bid on Croatia match-worn jerseys against Slovakia in an auction for the Vatreno Srce Foundation.

A real treat for jersey collectors and all fans of the popular Croatia national team shirts.

A humanitarian auction will start at www.matchwornshirt.com, where the Croatia national team jerseys from the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in Osijek will be on offer, announced HNS.

The tradition continues after the Croatia national football team became the first in the world to donate the jerseys from one competitive match (Croatia - Hungary, Euro 2020 qualifiers) to an online auction for humanitarian purposes, raising more than 30,000 euros for the Vatreno Srce Foundation, and did the same in one big competition (Croatia - Spain, Round of 16 of Euro 2020).

All Croatia national team players who will play against Slovakia will give away their jerseys for this auction, and their starting price will be 89 euros. The Vatreno Srce Foundation was founded and run by Croatia national team members and coaches. For years, they have been helping children and young people, such as donations to the Clinic for Children's Diseases and the Step into Life campaign.

The auction, which will offer Croatia match-worn shirts from the match against Slovakia, will begin with the first referee's whistle and will end on October 24 at 4 pm CET. All jerseys were professionally disinfected by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which means that all possible traces of viruses, bacteria, and DNA material were removed. Still, all other elements of the worn jersey were preserved, including embroidered Croatian and opponent's flags and the date of the match on the front of the jersey.

Join the auction at www.matchwornshirt.com/club/croatia, support the work of the Vatreno Srce Foundation and treat yourself or your loved ones to something they'll remember for a lifetime! 

Recall, Croatia and Slovakia meet on Monday at 20:45 at City Garden Stadium in Osijek. This is Croatia's second qualifier in October after beating Cyprus 3:0 away on Friday last week. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 8 October 2021

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Beats Cyprus 3:0 in Larnaca

October 8, 2021 - Croatia beats Cyprus 3:0 in the first match of the October World Cup qualifying campaign in Larnaca on Friday. 

After a great September qualifying campaign in which they collected seven points against the three toughest opponents in Group H, Croatia met Cyprus tonight at Aek Arena in Larnaca. Several hundred Croatia fans were in the stands. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Before this match, Croatia topped the group with 13 points, while Russia has the same number of points, with a slightly weaker goal difference. Only the first in the group qualifies directly for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the second-placed enters additional qualifications.

Lineups:

Cyprus: Michail – Andreou,Soteriou, Ioannou – Psaltis, Artymatas, Kyriakou, Avraam – Papoulis, P. Sotiriou, Pittas

Croatia: Livaković - Stanišić, Ćaleta-Car, Gvardiol, Sosa - Brozović, Kovačić - Vlašić, Modrić, Perišić – Kramarić

In the first minute of the match, debutant Stanišić made an almost catastrophic mistake, and Sotiriou rushed towards the goal. Fortunately, Gvardiol caught up and managed to block his shot from the edge of the penalty area. 

Croatia's attacking midfield was trying to speed up and control the game, while the entire Cyprus defense stayed back to prevent any chances. 

A great attacking play by Croatia in the 12th minute saw Vlašić find Kramarić at the top of the box, though he shot over the post.

Perišić shot a minute later which was deflected for Croatia's first corner kick. There was another great chance for Sosa who shot from outside the box, before Ćaleta-Car's header just missed. 

Croatia's second corner came in the 16th minute. Modrić dribbled through the Cyprus defense to the goal line which went out for another Croatia corner a minute later. 

Vlašić had a great chance in the 19th but shot over the goal post after forcing his way around the Cyprus defense. 

A tremendous effort from Perišić in the 20th, shooting near post with a brilliant save by the Cyprus goalkeeper. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia had their chance in the 22nd minute - a Perišić assist from the goal line found Kramarić in the penalty area for what we thought was a 1:0 lead, but it was ultimately called offside after VAR. 

Perišić had another great chance in the 30th minute after a superb through ball from Gvardiol which was played out for a goal kick. 

Kovačić was booked with a yellow card in the 33rd minute, meaning he'll miss Croatia's next match against Slovakia at home. 

Kramarić shot at the keeper a minute later. 

Cyprus had a dangerous attack in the 37th minute which the Croatia defense sent out for the first Cyprus corner. Cyprus was certainly playing with more intent as the match neared halftime. A fortunate offside play nearly saw a Cyprus goal, but Livaković saved the day. 

After a worrying 10 or so minutes, Croatia picked up their intensity again in the final 5 minutes of the first half. A free kick for Croatia with two minutes to go was cleared by the Cyprus defense. 

Croatia's best chance of the game came in the 1st minute of injury time. A brilliant Modrić ball found Sosa who shot, forcing a cluster in the front of the goal. Kramarić almost scored for 1:0 but was denied by the keeper. 

But Croatia got their goal moments before the halftime whistle. Perišić dribbled into the box and scored far post for 1:0! 

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Slobodan Kadic

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Slobodan Kadic

There were no changes for Croatia going into the second half. 

Croatia's first corner of the second half came in the 49th minute.

Croatia was awarded a penalty in the 52nd minute. Kramarić pushed into the box and was taken down by two Cyprus players. Luka Modrić stepped up to the penalty spot and was denied by the Cyprus goalkeeper to keep the game 1:0. 

Croatia had a series of beautiful one-twos in the 57th minute but a cluster of Cyrpus players stayed back to deny any chances. Vlašić shot near post a minute later. 

Zlatko Dalić subbed off Kovačić for Pašalić in the 62nd minute. Andrej Kramarić was subbed off for Marko Livaja. while Nikola Vlašić came off for Josip Brekalo in the 67th minute. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Sosa had a brilliant chance in the 70th minute but chose to play Livaja instead of taking the shot, which the keeper easily defended.

Croatia continued with stellar chances in the minutes that followed, all denied by the brilliant Cyprus goalkeeper. 

However, a Croatia corner in the 79th minute brought just the luck they needed. Gvardiol found the back of the net from the cross for 2:0! 

Dalić subbed off Modrić for Ivanušec in the 82nd minute, while Brozović came off for Kristijan Jakić. 

To confirm Croatia's dominance during the match, Livaković's first save came only in the 84th minute!

The referee added 3 minutes of injury time, and Croatia wasn't finished yet. A brilliant ball from Brekalo in the box found Livaja who tapped it in for 3:0!

Croatia maintained possession to end the match in their favor. Goals by Perišić, Gvardiol, and Livaja confirmed the 3:0 victory.

Croatia will face Slovakia next in Osijek on Monday.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

PHOTOS: Luka Modrić Returns to Croatia Team ahead of Cyprus and Slovakia

October 6, 2021 - Captain Luka Modrić returns to Croatia for the first time since the EURO 2020 match against Spain! 

Ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovakia, the Croatia national team held a training, also attended by captain Luka Modrić. reports Gol.hr.

Since he missed the September qualifiers, Modrić played his last game in the national team jersey at the European Championship against Spain in June.

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Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL

Everyone could hardly wait for Luka's return to the national team, confirmed by assistant Vedran Ćorluka. Modrić arrived at the national team camp on Monday night, and on Tuesday night, had his first training session with Croatia after a long break.

Unfortunately, the national team lost Josip Juranović and Dejan Lovren before the October qualifiers, while Domagoj Vida will miss one game. Thus, Josip Stanišić, a Bayern player and the new star of Croatia, could make his debut as a right back.

"Lovren and Juranović will not come to the gathering. We agreed, due to their injuries and the current situation that they stay at their clubs and train. Juranović dropped out, and Lovren will not be with us for the first week, and we will see if he will be OK for the match against Slovakia. We have a situation with stoppers, but I wouldn’t say a problem either because we have a lot of quality in that part of the game. We activated the callups to Ćaleta-Car and Pongračić, they are in full training, although they did not play all the games," said Dalić on Monday. 

Coach Zlatko Dalić sees Stanišić in the first match against Cyprus, and maybe against Slovakia, played in Osijek on October 11 at 20:45.

Unfortunately, Mislav Oršić missed Tuesday's training due to ankle discomfort, and the medical team did not want to take any risks. However, the Dinamo player should be ready for the qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovakia.

Tuesday's training also featured goalkeeper Simon Sluga, who arrived as a replacement for the injured Ivica Ivušić.

On Monday, Croatia also trained at the Hitrec-Kacian auxiliary ground at Maksimir Stadium. Nikola Vlašić's 24th birthday celebration enhanced the already great atmosphere. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 4 October 2021

Zlatko Dalić Ahead of Croatia's October World Cup Qualifiers: "We Must Remain Disciplined"

October 4, 2021 - Croatia's October World Cup qualifiers begin on Friday against Cyprus and continue in Osijek against Slovakia next Monday. Coach Zlatko Dalić addressed the press in Zagreb today before the national team gathered to discuss the upcoming cycle.

The Croatia national team is gathering in Zagreb ahead of the October World Cup qualifiers. Zlatko Dalić's team will play against Cyprus on Friday and host Slovakia on Monday in Osijek. Dalić has a lot of problems in the Croatia defense due to injuries, reports HRT.

"We must continue to be disciplined. We must continue even more seriously, even more responsibly, if we want to ease the cycle in November," said Dalić to begin.

On Sunday, he activated a callup to Borussia Dortmund defender Marin Pongračić. A few days ago, he also called up Duje Ćaleta-Car, due to the uncertain injuries of Domagoj Vida and Josip Juranović.

Dalić commented on Josip Brekalo's return to the national team:

"Josip Brekalo was not a problem for me; he was looking for a club, he was not in rhythm, and that is why he was not invited. He went to Turin, he played, and as soon as he got back in shape, we called him. We need him like other players who were not on the national team. No one will be deprived of the national team; whoever deserves their games, with their behavior, statements, and attitude towards the national team, will not be deprived because I see my interest first. Mine is that Croatia plays well to qualify for Qatar and the interest of the Croatia national team. I did not communicate with Rebić; there was no contact."

Croatia leads Group H with 13 points, the same as Russia. Slovakia is third with nine points, and Slovenia has seven. Malta and Cyprus follow with four points each.

"I think that 21 points will be enough, but we must decide for ourselves."

What does he think of the World Cup every two years?

"I don't think it's good, especially for the players, and the charm of playing the World Cup would be lost. We have to take care of the health of the footballers, and they play too many games this way."

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

To Infinity and Beyond: Luka Modrić Real Madrid Contract Extension?

October 3, 2021 - The latest on the Luka Modrić Real Madrid contract extension as Marca reports the Croatia captain could stay at the royal club beyond 2022.

Gol.hr reports that Croatia captain Luka Modrić signed with Real until 2022. However, Spanish sports daily Marca wrote in the text entitled "Luka Modrić: To Infinity and Beyond" that he could stay at the club after the summer of 2022, i.e., extend his contract for another year when his current contract expires.

"Modrić agreed to a lower salary as he realized his dream and ended his career at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner plans to play for another two or three years and is still a key player at Real although his replacements Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camaving are ready," writes Marca. 

"He is physically in better shape than in previous years. Last year he was fantastic with 48 games played, and that is why Real is planning to fulfill his dream and allow him to conclude his career with a contract until the summer of 2023. There are no official negotiations yet, but the club is open to that idea."

If Modrić succeeds, it will be good news for Croatia because the captain will not have to look for a new club for the last season of his playing career and appearance at the World Cup in Qatar. Recall that the World Cup will be played in the winter of 2022, and since Luka has a valid contract until the summer of next year, he would have to sign with another club for a year if he leaves Madrid, all to be in shape for Croatia in Qatar.

If he signs a new contract with Real, he will end his career in Madrid and be ready for the World Cup there.

He would also get the honor Zidane received last - playing his final official match in a Real Madrid jersey.

This honor was not given to many legends like Sergio Ramos, Raul, or Iker Casillas, who had to conclude their famous careers elsewhere. The last to do so was the legendary Zizou, though the Croatia national team captain could follow in his footsteps.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Tickets on Sale for Croatia World Cup Qualifier Against Slovakia in Osijek

September 29, 2021 - Tickets are on sale for the Croatia World Cup qualifier against Slovakia at City Garden Stadium in Osijek on October 11.

The Croatia national football team will continue qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in October. Zlatko Dalić's team will play against Cyprus in Larnaca on October 8 and Slovakia three days later in Osijek, reports HNS.

Online ticket sales for both Cyprus and Slovakia started on September 28 at 3 pm, the Croatian Football Federation announced.

The ticket price for the match against Cyprus is 80 kuna, and tickets can only be purchased online. One person can buy a maximum of four tickets.

Online ticket sales include a personal collection at the stadium box office with the presentation of a passport and a purchase confirmation (voucher), which is downloaded from the user's website after a successful purchase. Replacing vouchers at the stadium will be determined later, and all customers will be notified by e-mail.

Only citizens of the Republic of Croatia have the right to purchase online, regardless of residence address, by filling in personal data (name and surname, OIB, passport or identity card number, date of birth, and customer address). In addition to their data, the buyer also enters data on other spectators for whom they buy tickets, while other spectators do not have to be Croatian citizens.

The deadline for purchasing tickets is October 1 until 12 noon, i.e., until the availability of tickets is used.

Buying tickets for Croatia fans for the match against Cyprus is possible only through the Croatian Football Federation website. Croatia fans will not purchase tickets at the stadium box office or access the stadium without a voucher.

Entry to the stadium will be allowed only to those fans who have a valid EU digital COVID certificate issued based on complete vaccination or recovery of the coronavirus. EU digital COVID certificates issued based on PCR or antigen tests will not be recognized. HNS notes that no different vaccination certificates or sickness certificates will be recognized, but only the EU digital COVID certificate with a valid QR code checked at the entrance.

Ticket sales are organized exclusively online for the qualifying match between Croatia and Slovakia at City Garden Stadium in Osijek (October 11 at 8.45 pm). Ticket prices in presale (as of October 10) are 150 kn (west), 100 kn (east), and 75 kn (south). On the day of the match on October 11, the prices will be 200, 120 and 90 kn.

Everyone coming to the stadium must have an EU digital COVID certificate. However, children under the age of 12 who have a ticket can enter the stadium without an EU digital COVID certificate if accompanied by a parent or guardian who has a certificate and a ticket.

Ticket sales include e-tickets that the customer must download and print. Only citizens of the Republic of Croatia have the right to purchase, regardless of residence address, by filling in the required personal information.

One person can buy up to four tickets. In addition to their data, the buyer can also enter data on other ticket holders, where they do not necessarily have to be a citizen of the Republic of Croatia.

TICKETS CAN BE PURCHASED HERE

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Potential Nations League Opponents for Croatia Revealed

September 24, 2021 - Potential Nations League opponents for Croatia have been revealed, while the groups for the 3rd edition of the competition will be decided in a draw on December 16. 

UEFA has announced the strongest groups for the upcoming Nations League draw on December 16 in Montreux, Switzerland, reports T.portal.

The Croatia national football team is still in the strongest, League A of the UEFA Nations League, and to start, Croatia has at least found out which three national teams they certainly cannot meet in the group stage. 

The plan is for the Nations League matches to be played in June and September next year, primarily because the World Cup in Qatar will be played in late winter, through November and December.

Croatia has thus been placed in the Group C draw group with England, Poland, and Switzerland.

But who does that leave as Croatia's potential opponents?

From Group A, Croatia can face France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain, in Group B, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, while from Group D, Croatia can play against Wales, Austria, the Czech Republic, or Hungary.

The winners of the UEFA Nations League will play the Final Four tournament in June 2023. They will also have a place in the additional qualifiers for Euro 2024 if they do not qualify for that competition through regular qualifiers.

The last national teams from each of the four League A groups are relegated to League B.

Nations League draw groups (December 16):

Group A: France, Belgium, Italy, Spain
Group B: Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany
Group C: CROATIA, England, Poland, Switzerland
Group D: Wales, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary

Nations League 2022/'23:

Round 1: June 2-4, 2022
Round 2: June 5 to 7, 2022
Round 3: June 9-11, 2022
Round 4: June 12-14, 2022
Round 5: September 22-24, 2022
Round 6: September 25-27, 2022

Recall, Croatia still has to finish up their 2022 World Cup qualifiers this year, with two games next month against Cyprus away and Slovakia at home. After that, Croatia completes their qualifying campaign in November against Malta away and Russia at Poljud. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Luka Modrić Returns for Croatia's October World Cup Qualifiers

September 20, 2021 - Captain Luka Modrić returns for Croatia's October World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovakia.

The Croatia national team coach Zlatko Dalić invited 24 players, with six call-ups, to the qualifying matches against Cyprus and Slovakia in October, reports HNS.

After a very successful September, sitting at the top of the group with seven points in three games, the Croatia national team awaits the continuation of the European qualifications for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Croatia will play in Larnaca near Cyprus on October 8, and then they will host Slovakia on October 11 in Osijek.

The national team will gather on October 4 in Zagreb, where they will train until October 7 and then travel to Larnaca. They will travel to Osijek immediately after the match against Cyprus.

After missing the September qualifying campaign due to injury, Dalić's player list is again led by captain Luka Modrić.

"After a successful September, of course, we now welcome the new gathering with a lot of optimism, positive energy, and confidence. However, we must be aware that all the good we have done must now be confirmed with six more points and that we can only do so with the full concentration, approach, and togetherness we had at the last gathering. We have already beaten Cyprus and Slovakia in this cycle, and we accept the role of favorites in both games, but I repeat - we must be at our maximum. I am convinced that the invited players will successfully respond to this challenge, and of course, we are especially pleased with the return of Luka Modrić, who as a player and leader is of inestimable importance to us," said coach Zlatko Dalic.

List of players for Cyprus and Slovakia:

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivica Ivušić (Osijek), Ivo Grbić (Lille).

Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Bešiktaš), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Borna Barišić (Glasgow Rangers), Josip Juranović (Celtic), Mile Škorić (Osijek), Filip Uremović (Rubin Kazan), Joško Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Josip Stanišić (Bayern).

Midfielders : Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Nikola Vlašić (West Ham), Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo Zagreb), Kristijan Jakić (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Strikers: Ivan Perišić (Inter), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim), Josip Brekalo (Torino), Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb), Marko Livaja (Hajduk).

Callups: Duje Ćaleta-Car (Olimpique de Marseille), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Antonio Mirko Čolak (Malmö), Simon Sluga (Luton Town), Kristijan Lovrić (Gorica), Nikola Moro (Dinamo Moskva).

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Age-defying Luka Modrić Celebrates 36: Happy Birthday to Croatia's Best Footballer

September 9, 2021 - The age-defying Croatian football great Luka Modrić celebrates 36 years today. To honor the Croatia captain and Real Madrid star, we recount an unknown story about the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner. 

Although already in his finer years, Luka Modrić is still one of the core players of the biggest football clubs in the world, Real Madrid. But Luka's path to stardom was anything but easy, especially when recounting his early childhood days. 

Luka's war history has been retold many times because as a six-year-old boy, he had to leave his family home in Zaton Obrovački, where in front of that house, Chetniks killed his grandfather Luka, after whom he was named. 

For many years, Modrić lived with his family in refugee hotels in Zadar - he was in the Kolovare Hotel until 1997, and then he moved to the Iž Hotel. He would go to school and training and moved his focus solely to football, which eased the pain of life's everyday difficulties. 

The separation, time of war, and everything that accompanied Luka's early years in Zadar were anything but pleasant, but there were many people with big hearts who tried to make those days better.

Namely, Luka received help from a Scottish humanitarian association founded during the war in former Yugoslavia, and its founder Magnus MacFarlane-Farrow (53) admitted his run-in with now football great Luka Modrić on The Scottish Sun.

“Little did we know that among the crowds of kids there was one who would grow up to be a global superstar. But now we can celebrate an amazing moment in the Mary’s Meals story," said funder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow. 

“Today, two million children ate Mary’s Meals in a place of education. When we set out on this path nearly 30 years ago, we were overwhelmed by people’s goodness in donating – and that’s been the story ever since."

In the beginning, Magnus personally came to Medjugorje with his brother Fergus and delivered help for those in need. And in 2019, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Mary's Meals branch, he visited Croatia. 

"In 2019, my Julie and I travelled back to Croatia for the ten-year anniversary of Mary’s Meals support there.

We enjoyed an amazing evening of dancing and singing in Slavonski Brod, a town we had last visited nearly thirty years previously when it was being ripped apart by war and home to many thousands of refugees.

At the main event in the capital, Zagreb, the following evening, I received a very wonderful surprise when I finished making my short speech.

One of the volunteers climbed onto the stage and presented me with a parcel, which on opening turned out to be a Croatia football top.

I was happy enough with that, being a big fan of their amazing national team, which had reached the World Cup final the previous year, but only when I turned it over in my hands did I realize it was much better than that.

It was a signed gift from Luka Modrić, who was the holder of the Ballon d’Or - so recognised as the best footballer on the planet.

He and his family support Mary’s Meals partly because they were themselves refugees in the coastal town of Zadar when Julie and I used to deliver aid there.

Little did we know that among the crowds of kids there was one who would grow up to be a global superstar."

Luka Modric won the Golden Ball at the 2018 World Cup, where he also became a finalist with Croatia. He went on to win the Ballon d’Or and was named the men’s best player by FIFA and UEFA for the 2017/18 season. He also won the Golden Ball at the FIFA World Club Cup with Real Madrid, and helped the club win their third consecutive Champions League title. But that's only part of it, and there is no stopping him yet. 

Happy 36th Birthday, Luka!

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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