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Luka Modric And Mario Mandzukic Didn't Speak For Three Years After Hotel Incident

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Luka Modric And Mario Mandzukic Didn't Speak For Three Years After Hotel Incident

Luka Modric has revealed he had a three-year rift with Croatia teammate Mario Mandzukic after an incident in a hotel elevator.

Mandzukic, who made 89 appearances for his country over an eleven-year period, decided to retire from football last week after spells at Dinamo Zagreb, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus, amongst others.

He announced his decision in an Instagram post that included a picture of an old pair of football boots.

"Dear little Mario," he said in a message to his younger self. "While you put on these boots for the first time, you can't even imagine what you will get to experience in football.

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"You'll score goals at the biggest stages and you'll win the biggest trophies with the biggest clubs. Proudly representing your nation, you will help write the history of Croatian sports..."

In the aftermath of his retirement announcement, many paid tribute to the 35-year-old striker, including former international teammate Modric.

In fact, the Real Madrid midfielder spoke about his rocky relationship with Mandzukic in a fascinating extract in his new autobiography 'My Game'.

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"Mario is a special guy. Sometimes he seems grumpy," Modric wrote. "Those who don't know him well would think that in reality, he is always frowning.

"All this time I have known Mario as a great boy, with a big heart. I loved him from day one, even though it took me a long time to understand [him].

"We spent a lot of time together on the national team. On a visit to Iceland, when we were trying to go to the World Cup in Brazil, I ran into Mandzukic in front of the hotel elevator.

"'Come on Mario, we're going hard today,' I told him, since many times the players cheer each other on in training or before the game.

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"Mandzukic, however, surprised me with his reaction: 'Look at yourself, leave me.' It seemed to me that it was a momentary upset.

"I always had a good relationship with Mario. We were in constant contact until then. Then there was silence, the relationship cooled."

Modric holds off a challenge from Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic in the Champions League semi-final. Image credit: PA
Modric holds off a challenge from Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic in the Champions League semi-final. Image credit: PA

Four years later, when Croatia were preparing to play in the 2018 World Cup, a defiant Modric was eager to try and reconnect with Mandzukic.

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It turns out it was all a big misunderstanding.

"If he had the wisdom of now, he would have clarified it immediately or, in the worst case, in the next concentration [meeting] of the national team," he added.

"But I was also defiant. When two difficult people are short-circuited, the energy disappears. Frankly, he was wrong, but he didn't want to take the first step.

"I waited for the right moment and started the conversation. I wanted to tell him how sorry I was that we no longer had a close relationship.

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"I was interested to know the reason why we had been communicating exclusively in a cold way for more than three years.

"We spoke openly and saw that the problem came out of nowhere. 'I didn't get mad at you. I thought you were sulking with me', he told me.

"I said the same thing. Positive energy flowed between Mario and me again. We share some traits: a kind of introversion, a little more difficult to show emotions, we know how to be stubborn.

"But he is the person I would go to any fight with. Whatever it is, I know he will give everything, protect your back and never betray you."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Football, Croatia, Real Madrid, Luka Modric

Jack Kenmare
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