Sports Nicknames - Cruyff of the Balkans

Luka Modric is a name that will be familiar to many fans of European football. The midfielder who started in Croatia before bursting onto the stage at Tottenham Hotspur became the first player other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in a decade to win the Ballon d'Or in 2018. His fluid and creative play style reminded many of the great Johann Cruyff, so he became known as the "Croatian Cruyff" and "The Cruyff of the Balkans".

Profile drawing - Luka Modric - Digital art.  Illustration.  Croatia.  Real Madrid.

Modric had a rough start to his career, not breaking through to a major team until he signed a 10-year contract with Dinamo Zagreb in his native Croatia. However, he only fulfilled three of those years as interest came in from Barcelona, Arsenal and Chelsea. In the end, he chose Tottenham Hotspur.

While he played well for Spurs and achieved much personal success, the club achieved little. However, in 2012 he was approached by another team in white - Real Madrid. It was here where he would achieve the majority of his success in his career. He has won the aforementioned Ballon d'Or, 2 La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, 4 Champions Leagues and 3 FIFA Club World Cups. He has also helped Croatia get to their first ever World Cup final in 2018, though they lost to France.

Modric's vision, technique, workrate and other abilities have all contributed to his success. With all the teams he has played for, he has been praised and complimented, even if that team didn't achieve much in terms of silverware. At the time of writing, he is 35, so it is up for debate as to how much longer he can play at the top level. However, that most certainly cannot take away from what the "Cruyff of the Balkans" has achieved.


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