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Public enemy No2

How did Luka Modric become the second most-hated man in Croatia?

The Real Madrid midfielder is Croatia's greatest export but his involvement in a corruption case has led to a dive in popularity

Luka Modric is perhaps the best midfielder in the world right now.

The diminutive passmaster put on an exhibition in the most recent Champions League final to help Real Madrid to their third European crown in four years.

As one of Croatia’s most successful exports, he should be a national hero.

Why then, is this happening?

This ominous message echoes many Croatian citizens’ opinions after Modric retracted his original testimony in one of the country’s biggest corruption legal cases.

Former Dinamo Zagreb chief Zdravko Mamic is on trial for embezzlement and tax fraud, among other things.

The 58-year-old is accused of illegally pocketing a chunk of Modric’s transfer fee when he left Dinamo for Spurs in 2008.

There’s no debate as to whether or not he was made absurdly rich off the back of the deal, the trial is simply determining if anything illegal took place.

Mamic is very unpopular among Croatian football fans

EPA
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Mamic is very unpopular among Croatian football fans

Mamic has always been supportive of Modric’s career but last year the veteran of 97 international caps testified that the 50-50 fee split annex was only signed and backdated after Modric had been sold – which would mean bad news for Mamic.

However, in his most recent appearance in court, Modric changed his story and claimed had initially confused the situation.

“That I’ve never said… that it… that… that it was drawn up afterwards,” he stuttered.

“I told you then that I couldn’t remember when it had been done.”

Modric dramatically changed his testimony in court

Getty Images
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Modric dramatically changed his testimony in court

Modric’s switcheroo improves the defence’s situation considerably.

Mamic is a vastly unpopular man in Croatia and is seen as the most harmful character to the integrity of Croatia’s domestic game.

Just last week he was punched into the sea by a passer-by.

And so Modric’s reversal has seen his popularity dive in his homeland with many graffiti artists targeting the midfielder.

The case is currently in recess because Mamic lost his cool in court and fired all of his lawyers in front of everybody before demanding to represent himself.

Croatia are set to host Kosovo in a World Cup qualifier on 2 September – it will be interesting to see what kind of reception Modric is greeted with.

The Real Madrid star who used to play in wooden shinpads