Former Croatian international and coach Zlatko Kranjčar passed away in Zagreb on 1 March at the age of 64.
Zlatko ‘Cico’ Kranjčar passed away today after a short illness.
On this day, fifteen years ago, it was Kranjčar who called up a young Luka Modrić, who was 20 at the time, and gave him his first international cap for Croatia. As they say, the rest is history.
Kranjčar called up Modrić for a friendly match against Argentina in Switzerland on 1 March 2006 as part of preparations for the 2006 World Cup in Germany in the summer.
Modrić celebrated his first international with a 3-2 victory. The match was also the first time Lionel Messi scored for his country.
Croatia opened the scoring in the 3rd minute through Ivan Klasnić before Carlos Tevez and Messi turned it around. Darijo Srna equalised for Croatia early in the second half, before Dario Šimić gave Croatia victory with the winner in the 90th minute.
Modrić was substituted in the 84th minute.
Since then, Modrić played for Croatia another 132 times and has scored 16 goals. He has participated the UEFA Euro 2008, 2012, and 2016, as well the 2006, 2014, and 2018 FIFA World Cup.
At UEFA Euro 2008, he was selected for the Team of the Tournament, becoming only the second Croatian to ever achieve this honour.
Following group stage eliminations in his first two World Cups, Modrić led Croatia to the 2018 World Cup Final, and he received the Golden Ball award for Best Player of the Tournament.
He has been named the Croatian Footballer of the Year a record eight times between 2007–2019 and has won four Champions League titles and a host of other awards.