London (AFP) – English midfielder Mason Mount is enjoying the possibility of another head-to-head match with Croatia’s Luka Modric in Sunday’s Euro 2020 clash after taking the prey in his first meeting with his boy picture idol.
Mount’s influential display played a key role in Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final victory over Modric’s Real Madrid this season.
The Chelsea star grew up in awe of Modric’s graceful performances for Tottenham, Real and Croatia, so he had to squeeze in as Modric asked for his shirt after Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
But his admiration for the 35-year-old will be put on hold at Wembley this weekend as England start their Euro campaign.
“He’s always been a player I’ve looked up to,” Mount said Friday. “Ever since he has been in the Premier League with Tottenham, I have seen him quite closely.
“When I played against him, it was weird because I had seen him so much that I kind of knew his moves and what he wanted to do.
“It helps to be a fan of a player and then play against him because you know what he likes to do.
“The experience of playing against him helps because you want to be part of these great games and learn to handle the pressure and the big moments.”
Mount took Modric’s shirt home after the first stage in Madrid, where the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner then requested his jersey in the return match.
“I spoke to (Mateo) Kovacic before the first game and asked if I could get his jersey at a later date,” he said.
“I succeeded and he asked for mine in the second game because I did not actually give it to him in the first.
“Kova said he likes to swap players, so he came up and said he wanted mine, just said ‘good luck in the upcoming games’.”
In its current form, Mount is a strong contender for a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up to face Croatia in a rematch of the 2018 semi-final, won by Modric’s men.
After delivering the exact pass that led to Kai Havertz’s winner in Chelsea’s Champions League final victory against Manchester City, Mounts’ confidence is high.
The 22-year-old would love to help England achieve their own historic victory in the Covid-delayed European Championship.
“Of course we know the story, we have never won a euro before, so for us we are a team that is very hungry to want to do that,” said Mount.
“We want to create history that no one has ever done before, and I feel like this group, with this young group, we can definitely do that, and we know what we can do.”