Vision, precise execution, and tactical strategy are the three leadership skills that many attribute to Luka Modric, the Captain of the Croatian National Soccer Team.Though the country is small, having a population slightly bigger than the State of Oregon, it made its presence felt by making it to the World Cup finals against France. Though Modric is considered to be one of the greatest midfielder of his generation, it was through his strong leadership skills, and ability to motivate his team, that took Croatia from being the underdog to competing as one of the best team in the world.
Modric learned his leadership skills in a very untraditional way. He was born in 1985 and was six years old at the start of the Croatian War for Independence. After his grandfather was killed by Serbian Rebels, and his childhood home burned to the ground, his family was forced to flee their hometown and live as refugees. Modric spent seven years living in a hotel and it was in the hotel parking lot that he learned how to play soccer. He told The Loop, a Canadian Media Organization, that while practicing, he remembers hearing grenades going off in the background… [He says] “The war made me stronger, though it was hard times for both me and my family... I don’t want to drag that with me forever, but I don’t want to forget about it either.” (Hess, 2018).
At age 15, Luka Modric tried out for the Croatian soccer club Hajduk Spit, but due to discrimination of him being too young and too small, he was not signed to the team. A year later, after displaying talent in an Italian Youth Tournament, he brought attention to himself and in 2003 he started playing in the Bosnian Premier League and became player of the year when he was 18. Modric says, “‘Someone who can play in the Bosnian league can play anywhere,’ referring to its physical nature.”
Modric’s story is a great example of not allowing the past to hold you victim to your future. It is a part of his life story, but it isn’t his whole life story. He allows his past to drive his motivation to never give up, no matter how hard things get but it doesn’t define him. I challenge you this week to ask yourself, “Are there things from my past holding my future hostage?” If so, identifying them is the first step to move towards freedom.
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