Croatia’s players and their coach will return from Russia 2018 as national heroes. Luka Modric also heads for home with a tangible reward for his hugely impressive campaign, having collected the tournament’s adidas Golden Ball award .

“I’m proud of that,” he said. “I would also like to thank all my team-mates, because without their help I would certainly not have received this award.
“We were so close to winning the World Cup itself,” he added. “And we will certainly think about it for a long time. But we can be proud.

“When you see this support of the fans after the match, it definitely makes you happier. We know we did something big here. But when you come so close, it is not easy to take.”

Though justifiably proud, both of his own outstanding performances in Russia and of his team’s spectacular campaign, Modric winced at the fresh and painful memory of their 4-2 Final loss to France.

“We fought heroically, we did everything to win, but we were unlucky,” he said. “We were the better team most of the match but unfortunately some unlucky and clumsy goals cost us dearly and gave France the advantage.”