Luka Modric has explained how much Sunday’s World Cup final means to him, stating that he would trade in his four Champions League titles to win the crown.
Croatia have moved through to the final, in which they will face France in Moscow, after overcoming Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland in the group phase, then seeing off Denmark and Russia on penalties. In the semi-finals, they overcame England 2-1 thanks to a Mario Mandzukic goal in extra-time.
It has been a gruelling route to the final, but the Real Madrid star, who has won all his continental crowns at the Bernabeu, is determined to make the most of what is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I would trade all four [Champions League] titles for this one,” he explained.
“No matter what happens in the final, this is the greatest success story in Croatian sport, but we all have the desire to be the champions. We are full of confidence, we have character and we have everything a team needs to be world champions.”
Modric, meanwhile, has been tipped as a potential Golden Ball winner for the competition, but he is more focused on team success.
“Everyone’s asking me about it but I’m not burdened by it,” he said. “We have to do it, if we don’t make this last step… we have to do it.
“When we came to the competition, we were fairly modest, without promoting ourselves. The goal was to go through the groups.
“I felt such belief that I have never felt before, and I don’t think it’s chance that we’ve made it to the final.”
Croatia’s previous best at a major tournament came in France ’98, when they were beaten by the hosts at the semi-final stage thanks to two Lilian Thuram goals.
“I remember Thuram,” Modric, who was 13 at the time, reflected. “I remember how sad I was. Let’s just say that we’re going to correct this. I won’t use any other words, but Croatia should have been in the final.”
Croatia have faced France on five previous occasions and have never won, although they have drawn each of their last two meetings.