Luka Modric was destined for the Ballon d’Or trophy, according to his former manager Zinedine Zidane, who told the Croatian midfielder that he could win it when the pair spoke in January 2016.
Modric officially ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s dominance of individual awards after scooping the Ballon d’Or award on Monday night, after being integral to Real Madrid winning their third Champions League in a row under Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane himself clearly played a huge part in Luka’s form during that time – and Modric himself has praised the French manager in a brilliant interview.
“There wasn’t a specific moment where he told me: You can win it,” he told France Football.
“When I recounted all of the individual trophies that I’ve won this year and when I saw that I was among the 30 finalists, I began to believe it, but there’s one thing I’ll never forget.
Modric reveals that Zidane called him into his office one day to talk about his potential to win the trophy – a moment that inspired the player:
“When Zidane became Madrid coach in January 2016, he called me to his office one day after training and told me how he saw me as a player and what he expected of me.
“He told me that I was an important player for him and, above all, that he saw me as a player who could win the Ballon d’Or.
“When someone like Zidane, with all of his personality and history, tells you that, it boosts your confidence.
“I admired him and respected him enormously as a player, he saw me as someone like himself, quiet and a bit shy, he expected me to express myself more on the pitch, to open up.
“He needed me to be a key part of the team in an era when we were truly playing well. Those words from Zidane helped me to go further in my play.
“Even in spite of his words, I didn’t begin to believe it.”
The former Spurs midfielder has completed a stellar year by adding the most prestigious individual prize in football to his collection at a ceremony in Paris.
The Ballon d’Or has been awarded by France Football magazine since 1956 and sees their staff put together the 30-man shortlist. For the next stage of the vote, leading journalists from all over the globe (one vote per nation) have had their say and picked out Modric.
Five years ago, the Dinamo Zagreb youth product was voted as the worst signing of the season in La Liga after a slow start to life in the Spanish capital.