Luka Modric said exactly what needed to be said after World Cup heart-break
The best player of the World Cup feels he was playing with the best team of the World Cup - Croatia.
Luka Modric was called up by a Fifa official, after the World Cup final, to receive a trophy. That the 'Golden Ball' looked so similar to the World Cup trophy itself must have struck the Croatian captain as he received his award for the tournament's best player with a hang-dog expression.
Modric and his team had dreamed of lifting the World Cup but were forced to watch on as France, and their captain Hugo Lloris, had the honour.
Following his side's 4-2 defeat to France, Modric spoke with talkSPORT and reflected on two poor refereeing decisions that aided France in taking a 2-1 lead into the second half.
"The second goal was a turning point," he said. "We were surprised it [the penalty] was given because of the free-kick the referee gave for the first goal which wasn’t a free-kick in my opinion.
"We recovered after the first goal and when we played our best football he gave a penalty and it kills you.
"I think we were unlucky to lose. We played well and I think we were the better team but sometimes better teams don’t win. We have to be proud with how we played but it wasn’t enough to win it."
The Real Madrid star also spoke about his player of the tournament award while Dion Fanning [from 34:00 below] highlighted his sheer class on The JOE World Cup Minipod.
Dion Fanning commented:
"Modric was the story of the tournament. He represented that idea of that one player who could make a difference at international level.
"Every country is looking for that player and, to different degrees, crying out for that. Ireland are definitely crying out for that. Even England don't have that sort of player that makes you think, 'Right, they can get past teams just on that brilliance'.
"Modric is something else and everything goes through him. He creates everything and he sets the tempo. He has been outstanding."
As for Modric himself, there was pride in being recognised for his efforts but he left Moscow without the prize he, and Croatia, yearned for.
"Winning player of the tournament is not that big a comfort because we lost in the end," he said.
"I’m proud to receive this nice award but what I wanted to achieve was a trophy for Croatia but unfortunately it didn’t happen."