Luka Modric, the most loved and inspiring locker room leader

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Before the classic, the whole world emphasizes his football skills, but his teammates especially praise his human values

A few weeks ago I stayed for coffee with Diego López, current Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper and former Real Madrid player. I asked him about his fondest memory of the years when he shared a season with Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Di María, Modric and other stars. He spoke to me about the importance of a cohesive dressing room, Ancelotti’s ability to subtly lead the group and the relevance of those players who, in the shadows, contribute humanity from day to day. “Luka Modric is an incredible player, but as a person he is even better.”

In addition to Madrid, Diego López played for Villarreal, Sevilla, Milan, Espanyol and now Rayo. In all the changing rooms he has met individuals who act as group glue. At Villarreal, for example, he says that Santi Cazorla’s work was essential. The key to these leaders is simple: they are good people who bond with others and make them feel good, which according to psychologists increases the performance of the individual and the whole group.

Andalusians have a reputation for being hyperbolic. The Galicians, no. So Diego López’s statement so upset me that I became interested in what other footballers were saying who agreed with Modric. Diego López’s trial was not exaggerated. On Father’s Day, Rodrygo Goes congratulates Luka. The Croatian refers to the Brazilian as “son” and the latter answers him by calling him “father”. The origins of this family treatment go back to the day Modric found out that Rodrygo’s father was only a year older than him. So he decided to exercise some sort of paternalistic tutelage with young Rodrygo.

When Modric won the Ballon d’Or, everyone praised his game. But those who know him were happy with the mark Madrid’s 10 left on their lives. According to Diego López, he is the humblest person he has ever met in a dressing room: “he acts like a fellow countryman.” The goalkeeper admits that he found it immensely inspiring how someone of his brilliance as a footballer, his fame and fortune, went through life as a resident of a Galician village, such as the one Diego comes from.

Didier Dechamps says that Modric is the paradigm of “football and psychological leader”. He has a wonderful technique, a surgical precision in the pass and on top of that he is a goalscorer. “He does everything, he moves, he plays, he runs, he assists and he scores.” But to arouse the respect and admiration of his colleagues, moral qualities are also needed, which Dechamps acknowledges: “Modric is a good person, humble and honest.”

So no one can tell Sergio Ramos that he is exaggerating as an Andalusian when he points to Modric when asked about the best person he has ever met in football. Those who have met him say that he simply can’t help himself: he constantly takes care of himself and worries about the well-being of others, which scares the conscience of his teammates in a sport that often leans towards egomania.

After Rüdiger suffered a massive blow in the last match against Shakhtar, he had to be sutured close to the eye with a suture equivalent to 20 stitches. Even before showering, Alaba was the first to appear in the makeshift operating room. He kissed his partner’s forehead and stayed until the end of the intervention. Kroos also showed affection to Rüdiger with a caress on the leg. “There’s less left, friend; There’s less to go, Rüdi,” Lucas Vázquez encouraged him as they sewed him, accompanying his words of encouragement with a few pats on the waist. Modric couldn’t miss: he saw him shiver at his colleague’s cries of pain.

Footballers are seen as tough and seasoned boys. But this does not mean that they do not have sensitivity. People imagine Kroos as a cold and distant German, with no predisposition for tenderness. But it is enough to enter a locker room to see that sometimes a team is closer to a group of friends, even a family, than many other groups. With his humility, generosity and kindness, Luka helps Modric bring out the best in others. He already has the Ballon d’Or, but I would create a Nobel Prize for friendship and give it to the Croat. A genius with the ball, reinforcing football art. A good man, who encourages in everyone the pride of belonging to the human species.

Source: La Verdad

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