‘He will stay with us for a long time’: Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic backs Luka Modric to continue his international career after finishing third at the World Cup… despite the 37-year-old casting doubt over his chances of playing on until Euro 2024
Zlatko Dalic dedicated Croatia’s bronze medal to Luka Modric and hinted that the Croatia captain may stay on to help his country qualify and try to win Euro 2024 in Germany.
The Real Madrid midfielder is 37 but still playing at the highest level, and when Dalic was asked about him staying on he replied: ‘Yes, I hope so.
‘Some people might think it is the end for him but I think Luka Modric will stay with us for a long time.
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic (right) believes Luka Modric will continue to play for the nation
Croatia celebrated finishing as third place winners at the Qatar World Cup on Saturday
‘He’s our captain, he’s our boss, our leader and everybody follows him. He played fantastically well in this tournament. He’s 37 years old but played like a 25-year-old. I’m very happy with him, and this trophy is also for him.’
Dalic also spoke of the pride of a nation of four million people who followed up their second-place in the 2018 World Cup with a bronze medal here. ‘I’m very proud of my team and proud for my country.
Croatia captain Modric is considering his playing future
‘We did a great job tonight and all the way through the World Cup. For us, the bronze is like a gold medal. We played a very tough tournament.
‘Also I want to congratulate Morocco, who did a fantastic job like we did in Russia in 2018. Maybe no-one expected Croatia to do something like this again. We are a small country with big dreams.’
And having lost to Argentina in the semi-final, he said it was vital to end on a high. ‘We were unlucky against Argentina so this was an important game for us because we wanted to go home as winners, not as losers.
‘This is great for us, I am really happy and I know now in my country everybody is happy, We can all celebrate.’
Modric was more cautious when he said: ‘About my future, I don’t know if I will play on until the Euros in Germany. We will see. I need to go step by step. I am enjoying the national team, I feel happy.
Modric (arm raised) celebrated a third place World Cup finish with his teammates on Saturday
Modric (right) and manager Dalic (blue jacket) embrace after the full-time whistle against Morocco
‘I still feel I can perform on a high level and I want to continue at least until the Nations League. And then, after, there will be more time to think about the Euros.’
Dalic added: ‘We won the bronze, but it has a golden glare. We are among the three best teams in the world and it is as if we have won the gold.
Real Madrid’s Croatian midfielder Modric is 37-years-old and playing at the highest level
‘These are the moments we live for, we work for, we train for. Winning tonight’s match was the most emotional moment of the World Cup for us.
‘We have young players in our team and there’s a great hopes in Croatia. We have a great football school for the future and I believe Croatia has nothing to fear.’