'We will need him' - Croatia boss Dalic rubbishes talk of international retirement for Modric

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Luka Modric Croatia 2022
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Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic dismissed notions of Luka Modric retiring from the national team anytime soon, underlining his importance to the squad.
  • Modric turned 37 in September
  • Made 159th cap vs Japan
  • Dalic insisted Qatar wouldn't be his last tournament

WHAT HAPPENED? Despite Modric turning 37 in September and making his 159th international cap in Monday's last-16 tie against Japan, Dalic appeared certain that the veteran midfielder would be a part of his plans for years to come. The Croatia boss also believes that the player himself would want to remain part of the team for his own "self-improvement".

WHAT THEY SAID: "This will not be Luka’s last tournament," Dalic declared in a press conference. "He will continue to play for Croatia, I am absolutely certain of that. Luka continues to work hard and he continues to strive for self-improvement. We will need him for some time more in the future.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Dalic went on to highlight the staggering achievements his side have made given the small stature of Croatia as a nation, stating: “The results we have produced at the World Cup and in European Championships over the last few years are unrivalled for a country of our size. I believe this team has given great success to our people - and when you look at it this really is a miracle. We have become a force in world football because we are a nation who always feels like we have to prove ourselves."

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DID YOU KNOW? Croatia's lineup to face Japan was the oldest in a World Cup knockout stage game since France's in the 2006 final vs Italy (30y 8d).

WHAT NEXT FOR CROATIA? Dalic's side will battle it out with Japan in Monday's last-16 fixture for a place in the quarter-finals, which would be Croatia's second successive World Cup last-eight matchup.