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Rediff.com  » Sports » Di Maria says sacrifice worthwhile; dream comes true for Modric

Di Maria says sacrifice worthwhile; dream comes true for Modric

May 25, 2014 15:27 IST

Di Maria says sacrifice worthwhile; dream comes true for Modric

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Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria accepted a Man-of-the-Match award from Alex Ferguson on Saturday and said winning the Champions League made a sore leg and a year of sacrifice worthwhile.

The Argentine worked tirelessly down the wing to keep his side in the final of Europe's elite club competition after Atletico went 1-0 up after 36 minutes at the Stadium of Light.

In extra time, he had to drop back because of an injured leg and allow substitute Marcelo to surge forward.

But Di Maria finished the game and his efforts were instrumental in Real's 4-1 win.

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Image: Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Ángel Di Maria of Real Madrid celebrate victory
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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'We've made many sacrifices all the year'

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"I felt a small pain in the back of my leg. I couldn’t really run so I decided to stay back and have Marcelo play in front of me," the 26-year-old Argentina international said.

"For me it's fantastic to have won this cup - it's a dream I've had since I was a small child.

"As the group we worked very hard all year long. We lost La Liga... we've made many sacrifices all the year and it's great to win it," he added.

Real faded in the Spanish title race and finished third in the Spanish league behind Atletico and Barcelona.

Di Maria, who played for Benfica before joining Real, said he felt at home back in the Portuguese club's stadium.

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Image: Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid breaks away from Raul Garcia of Club Atletico de Madrid
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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Dream comes true for Real's tireless dynamo Modric

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Winning the Champions League with Real Madrid after a tough start at the club is a dream come true for Luka Modric, the Croatia midfielder said after an effervescent performance in Saturday's 4-1 win over city rivals Atletico.

Modric spent much of his first season in Madrid after arriving from Tottenham Hotspur in 2012 battling for a place in the first eleven under Real’s former coach Jose Mourinho, having to adapt to a less preferred deeper role.

The 28-year old showed at the Stadium of Light how much he has flourished, dishing out passes like confetti and being at the heart of every Real attack before delivering a perfect corner for Sergio Ramos to head in an added time equalizer.

Modric continued to play at full throttle in extra time as Atletico wilted, with several players struggling with cramp as Real turned on the heat to win “La Decima” - their long-awaited 10th title in Europe’s premier club competition.

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Image: Luka Modric of Real Madrid and Alvaro Arbeloa of Real Madrid celebrate with the Champions League trophy
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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'It's been a long wait'

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“We knew after we equalized they stood no chance in extra time because some of their players had clearly run out of steam,” Modric, draped in a Croatian flag, told reporters.

“This is a dream come true for me because it tops everything I have worked for throughout my career and I am really at a loss for words to describe how overjoyed I am.

“This will give us a tremendous incentive to try to win La Liga next season and also to defend the Champions League title, having taken a huge stone off our backs by clinching this one.

“We were almost obsessed with the task because the expectations at this club are always high and it’s been a long wait."

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Image: Alvaro Arbeloa of Real Madrid gives the thumbs up as Luka Modric of Real Madrid poses with the Champions League trophy
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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Versatile player

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Modric, who started as an attacking midfielder at his first club Dinamo Zagreb, gradually morphed into a more versatile player deployed across the engine room at Spurs before his move to Real, where he initially struggled to fit in.

Having shone this term in a playmaking role under Carlo Ancelotti after the Italian took over from Mourinho, Modric credited the two managers with his improvement.

“They are both outstanding coaches and great personalities,” he said. “Being signed by Real was the happiest moment of my life up to this point and the reason I am here today celebrating the biggest accomplishment of my career is because I never stopped believing in myself.

“Likewise, we never lost faith tonight that we would draw level after falling behind and the equalizer was just reward for our efforts. Atletico were worthy opponents in every aspect but we are team full of natural born winners who have performed many times on the big stage.

“It’s been a long season but this feeling of pure joy will ease the fatigue ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, which I am very much looking forward to after a few days’ rest.”

Croatia, the 1998 World Cup semi-finalists, are in Group A with Brazil, Cameroon and Mexico.


Image: Luka Modric of Real Madrid CF greets the audience during the celebration of their victory
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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