Until 1991, Croatia wasn’t what it is now, its social, cultural and economic context was quite different, due to the fact Croatia was part of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, an estate that reunited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija and Vojvodina. The regime was allied to the USSR until 1948 and was ruled by Josip Tito.

Yugoslavia back then was a country with seven borders, six republics, five nationalities, four languages, three major religions, two alphabets, one leader and a millennia-long history of hard feelings between Serbians, Croatians, Slovenians, Albanians, Bosnians and Macedonians.

This situation led to a war that lasted from 1991 to 1995, with over twenty thousand people killed and even more injured and millions of displaced people, fleeing by foot seeking refuge anywhere they could, whole families forced to leave their homes as the independence war raged behind them. Thousands lost forever, others fleeing with the hope of being reunited with their loved ones.

Nowadays, Kolovare Hotel is a beautiful, four stars establishment, located by the Adriatic Sea, however. During the dark days of Croatia’s independence war, it was a shelter for refugees. It was full of families, unfortunate people, displaced people who had to make a choice between staying on the war zone or fleeing for their lives, war refugees.

The Modric family lived in Kolovare for seven years and were one of the last families to leave the shelter after the war ended and everyone started to go back “home” to restart life again, Luka, who was there, honed his football skills every time he could.

The Kolovare had a nice, clean and flat parking lot. That’s the place where young Luka Modric started to compulsively improve his abilities with the ball. An elementary school teacher who lived just in front begged him to come inside and do some homework, though Luka would kindly ask for some more time to play. Luka Modric was a smart boy, adaptable to any sport his school threw at him, he enjoyed basketball, playing two on two with friends, friends such as Croatia’s National Team goalkeeper, Danijel Subasic.

And Football Came

When his PE teacher saw him with a football ball for the first time, he was astonished. He’d try to challenge Luka, make him play against bigger kids, putting him as a goalkeeper, or even at times, both things. But young Modric would overcome every challenge and win.

The Modric Family and Kolovare Hotel

Luka witnessed the horrors of war firsthand when he had to see his grandfather get brutally murdered. They didn’t have a choice but to leave for Zadar, running from their homeland through the woods and mountains, to avoid being killed by those who murdered his grandfather.

When the Modric family got to Zadar, and felt safe, Luka lived with his relatives on the Kolovare Hotel, a place where he could enjoy himself to his fullest by playing football with other kids. His talent didn’t fly under the radar, though. The hotel employees saw him and right away they got in touch with NK Zadar so he’d be signed up by them. And so he was.