Home » Sport » Croatia legend Luka Modric is an ex-refugee whose granddad was shot dead when he was just six but still became an icon – The Sun | The Sun
Croatia legend Luka Modric is an ex-refugee whose granddad was shot dead when he was just six but still became an icon – The Sun | The Sun
February 28, 2023
LUKA MODRIC has enjoyed a stunning career, including winning the Ballon d'Or title in 2018.
But his upbringing could not have been tougher.
When the Croatia and Real Madrid superstar was just six years old, his entire existence was rocked by the shooting of his beloved granddad at the hands of militant Serbian thugs and he was forced to live life as a refugee in his war-torn homeland.
But despite such hardship, that didn't stop the ambitious kid from going on to become one of the best players on the planet and still, aged 37, a global superstar.
In 2018, he was voted the best player on the planet, ending the decade of dominance of the award by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
But on December 8, 1991, during Croatia's war of independence, violent Serbian militia stormed Modrici, a small village near the Velebit mountains in northern Dalmatia and wrought terror on Croatian families who hadn't escaped.
One of those caught in the crossfire was Luka Modric Snr, who was walking his cattle up an abandoned street when he was cornered by a group of Serbians.
They brutally executed him along with five other locals.
The idea behind the barbaric act was to send a message to other Modrici residents that they must leave their town behind, but it robbed the future Real Madrid midfielder of his grandfather.
It hit Luka hard.
At the time, he was raised by Modric Snr while his parents Stipe and Radojka worked long hours in a knitwear factory to support the family financially.
And amazing footage emerged during the 2018 World Cup of a young Luka herding goats.
I was six years old. These were really hard times. I remember them vividly but it’s not something you want to remember or think about
After the incident, his parents were forced to leave Modrici and they sought refuge at the Hotel Iz in the town of Zadar.
Without any electricity or running water, the sound of grenades and bullets became a daily occurrence for little Luka and his sister Jasmina, not to mention avoiding landmines potentially buried around any corner.
But that didn't stop the boy from kicking a small, punctured football around the hotel car park, dreaming that one day he would be able to leave his war-torn existence behind.
It's a rags-to-riches tale that's testament to the five-time Champions League winner's dedication and determination to succeed in the wake of an awful tragedy.
Modric rarely talks about his hardship, but when he signed for Spurs back in 2008, he briefly addressed the issues that blighted his childhood.
“When the war started we became refugees and it was a really tough time,” Modric revealed.
“I was six years old. These were really hard times. I remember them vividly but it’s not something you want to remember or think about.
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