Former England international Jermaine Jenas believes stopping Croatia midfielder Luka Modric is key for his country in Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final.
Modric, 32, has been in inspirational form and has been at the forefront of Croatia’s impressive run at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Jenas, who was at Tottenham Hotspur when the London club signed Modric a decade ago, feels that for England to have a chance of victory, they must find a way to keep the Real Madrid playmaker under wraps.
“For England to beat Croatia and reach the World Cup final, they must stop the best midfielder in the world. That is how highly I rate my former Tottenham team-mate Luka Modric. I’ve not met many players as driven as Luka, and I’ve seen even fewer who are as talented as him,” Jenas told the BBC.
“When you consider how well balanced he is, I just don’t see a better player in that area of the pitch anywhere on the planet right now.
“Bearing in mind he has won the Champions League four times with Real, I don’t think he always gets the wider accolades he deserves.”
It’s not Modric’s talent alone that makes him such a special player, but his drive and determination, says Jenas.
“When he joined Tottenham in 2008 at the age of 22, we became close friends and even then he was already becoming the leader he is now as captain of his country,” Jenas explained.
“That is one of the qualities he has that many people might not expect and, as a player, he always had a few surprises up his sleeve too.
“The things that make Modric such a threat to England on Wednesday are not just his vision, the fact he is a two-footed player, or his low centre of gravity and balance.
“Yes, the way he uses his body when he is on the ball plays a big part in making him the fantastic footballer he is, but so does his personality.
“Luka has always demanded a lot from his team-mates and there were times in games when he would be the one rallying the troops, even in his early years at Tottenham.
“Some creative players can just drift out of games if they are not going their way, but not Luka. He is passionate about his football and he had a little aggressive streak in him that I quite liked actually,” he added.