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Luka Modric has already experienced the unexpected downside of being idolised by a precocious footballing talent.
And Mason Mount is aiming to make his teenage admiration for the Croatian pay off again.
The pair have each other’s club jerseys hanging in their respective trophy rooms but Mount started his journey to the top by studying the former Ballon d’Or winner’s every move.
And that gave him an edge when the two midfielders went head-to-head in the two-legged Champions League semi-final, which Chelsea won 3-1 on aggregate en route to their ultimate triumph in Porto.
Mount explained: “He (Modric) has always been a player I have looked up to.
Mount and Modric faced off in the Champions League semi-finals
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
“Ever since he was in the Premier League playing for Tottenham, I watched him closely as a kid.
“Playing against him was weird because I have watched him so much growing up. I kind of know his moves and what he was going to do.
“So it helps being a fan of a player and then playing against him because you know what he likes to do.”
Mount is such a fan of the 35-year-old midfielder, he managed to get the Croatian’s jersey after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw in Madrid.
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And after Chelsea had got the job done in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge with a 2-0 win, in which Mount shone and Modric struggled, the Real Madrid veteran sought out the young Englishman to ask for his jersey.
Mount recalled: “I spoke to (Mateo) Kovacic before the first game and asked if I could get his (Modric’s) shirt. I managed to do that and then he asked for mine in the second game.
“He came up to me and said he wanted mine and said good luck in the upcoming games.
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“It was brilliant for me to speak to him. He wanted my shirt and I was quite overwhelmed. It was special.”
While Modric is looking for a special swan song to his stellar career, 22-year-old Mount is only just getting into his stride.
In fact, three years ago, he was at Russia 2018 as a fan.
He said: “I was lucky enough to be at one of the group games. Even to be around it and witness that atmosphere of a major tournament, I remember that very vividly.
What is your scoreline prediction for England vs Croatia? Comment below.
"Then for the semi-final at home, I was at home and it was heartbreaking to watch, let alone be a player and be involved in it.
"But I think those kinds of experiences and those kinds of games give you that extra fire in the belly to want to put something right.
"That's definitely something that is in our minds and going to push us on to really perform like we know we can."
And if they perform like they know they can, Mount reckons he can add a European Championship medal to the Champions League medal he won in Porto last month … and become a national hero.
He said: “We know the level of players we have in this group and how together we are, and how hungry we are.
“We want to do what no England team has ever done before and win a European Championship and I feel like, with this group, we can do it.
“We want to create history, we want to make the nation proud.”