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20 YEARS

Luka Modric put Nike’s World Cup curse to bed when he picked up the Golden Ball

Luka Modric became the first Nike-sponsored athlete to lift the World Cup Golden Ball since Ronaldo in 1998

Ahh, Luka.

The lack of Three Lions belting out around the stadium meant Croatia didn’t quite have the inspiration to beat France in the World Cup final.

But enough with the salt. Luka Modric’s performances throughout the tournament were a joy to watch and the Real Madrid midfielder was rightly awarded the Golden Ball award as the World Cup’s best player.

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The camera is this way

Getty - Contributor
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The camera is this way

Modric’s fellow countryman Davor Suker lifted the Silver Ball in 1998 as Croatia finished third at the World Cup, inspiring a generation in the process.

But that’s not the only link Modric has to 1998.

Suker was beaten to the Golden Ball by Ronaldo, so no shame there. When Modric lifted the award he became the first Nike-sponsored player since O Fenomeno to do so.

Twenty years of Nike hurt ended.

Cheer up. At least you got a nice pair of boots out of it

EPA
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Cheer up. At least you got a nice pair of boots out of it

Between 2002 and 2014 all the Golden Ball winners were sponsored by adidas.

It might seem trivial but, in the multi-billion pound industry that is sportswear, beating the rest of the competition on football’s biggest stage is significant.

Adidas’ run started with Oliver Khan’s Copa Mundials at the 2002 World Cup. Khan kept five clean sheets in seven games at South Korea and Japan, only conceding against Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

Can’t go wrong with a pair of Copas

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Can’t go wrong with a pair of Copas

Zinedine Zidane scooped the honour four years later wearing a pair of gold Predator Absolutes.

It was his head rather than his feet that did the talking but that shouldn’t take away from the fact he led the world a merry dance and then retired aged 33.

Worthy of a place in Migos’ latest video

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Worthy of a place in Migos’ latest video

Diego Forlan picked the Golden Ball up in 2010, although he lost out on the Golden Boot to Thomas Muller because of assists.

That’ll teach him for being selfish.

Forlan, who was wearing adidas f50 adiZero boots, had to settle for fourth place after Uruguay lost to Germany in the third place play-off.

Understated

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Understated

Lionel Messi won the award in 2014, although the decision wasn’t well received.

He single-handedly dragged Argentina to the final, only for Germany to win in extra time.

So, including Modric, none of the last five winners of the Golden Ball have actually won the World Cup.

Nike’s curse might be over, but the Golden Ball curse continues.

Open sesame

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Open sesame