Josko Gvardiol Croatia Getty

Josko Gvardiol exclusive: Goal-scoring defender lifts lid on impressive debut season with Man City, declares his love for Luka Modric and explains what makes Croatia tick as they eye another shock at Euro 2024

Josko Gvardiol leans forward and casts his mind back to when he was a teenager and when he realised he had a real chance to become a professional footballer. He had been in the youth ranks of Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb since he was a child, but when he got to the B team, he realised he was just one step away. And he knew it was the time to knuckle down.

A friend of his father Tihomir, who had been an amateur footballer and earned a living selling fish at a market, drew Gvardiol a mental map plotting the road to success. He put it on his bedroom wall to remind him what it took to realise his dream and to focus on the things that matter.

"It is a small map at the moment. It's framed on the wall, it's just something I used to look at, it's written that we should be more focused on our work, our family and friends," Gvardiol tells GOAL in an exclusive interview, via adidas.

"Because the fact is we spend a lot of time on social media, on our phones and computers. It’s sad because when I was younger I couldn't wait to finish school and get on the playground with my friends. I wouldn't say that's the reason I’m successful, it’s one of the reasons. You need to be aware of that, every day you need to try to push yourselves to the limit."

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