Croatia’s Modric Is Oldest Player Ever to Score at European Championship and He’s Not Done Yet 

Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between the Croatia and Italy at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 24, 2024. (AFP)
Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between the Croatia and Italy at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 24, 2024. (AFP)
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Croatia’s Modric Is Oldest Player Ever to Score at European Championship and He’s Not Done Yet 

Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between the Croatia and Italy at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 24, 2024. (AFP)
Croatia's midfielder #10 Luka Modric celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group B football match between the Croatia and Italy at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on June 24, 2024. (AFP)

A standing ovation, a man-of-the-match award and a record.

But Croatia star Luka Modric was in no mood to celebrate, regardless of the accolades, after what could have been his last appearance at a major tournament.

Modric scored against Italy on Monday to become the oldest goal-scorer ever at a European Championship.

Ultimately it wasn’t enough to ensure his team stays in the competition. Mattia Zaccagni scored in the eighth minute of stoppage time for Italy to draw 1-1 and advance to the knockout stage.

Croatia needs an improbable series of other results going its way to remain at Euro 2024.

Modric, who is 38 years and 289 days old, claimed the opening goal on a rebound in the 55th minute, within a minute of having a penalty saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The previous record was held by Ivica Vastic, who was 38 years, 257 days old when he scored for Austria against Poland at Euro 2008.

Modric received standing ovations from fans when he went off in the 80th, and he was applauded again when he showed up for the post-game news conference.

One Italian journalist started by telling Modric he was one of the most magnificent players he had ever seen. He said he had no question to ask, just a request for him never to retire from playing.

Modric seemed genuinely moved by the kind words.

“I’d also like to keep playing forever but there probably will come a time when I’ll have to hang up my boots,” he replied. “I’ll keep playing. I’ll continue, so I’m not sure when, we’ll see.”

Modric earlier this month extended his contract by another year at Real Madrid, where he has amassed an impressive haul of trophies since joining from Tottenham in 2012, including another Champions League and Spanish league title last season.

Modric has played 178 games for Croatia since making his debut at age 20 under Zlatko Kranjcar in 2006. The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is playing in his fifth European Championship. His goal against Italy took his tally to four goals in 16 games at the tournament.

But Modric has enjoyed greater success with the national team at the World Cup, leading Croatia to the final in 2018, and third place in 2022.

The draw against Italy on Monday, and the manner in which it came with the last kick of the game, means Croatia is almost certain to be eliminated in the next days.

“It was very stressful. We kept fighting like lions right to the end. But football is cruel,” Modric said. “That’s part and parcel of football. Sometimes it brings a lot of happiness, but sometimes it makes you very sad as well.

“Losing like this is very difficult. It’s hard to find words to describe how my teammates and probably the fans feel as well. Of course, we need to bounce back.”

Modric, who is the team captain, took comfort from the performance.

“We gave everything for Croatia, and this is how Croatia presents itself, regardless of the cruelty of this result. We deserved more, but it’s football,” he said. “We can be proud of how we represented Croatia.”



Iconic Sites Hosting Paris Olympics Events

France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP
France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP
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Iconic Sites Hosting Paris Olympics Events

France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP
France's paralympian cyclist Florian Jouanny poses at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Joël SAGET / AFP

The Paris Olympics have been designed to showcase the City of Light in all its splendor, with events taking place at iconic locations.
AFP looks at five sites set to wow ticket-holders -- and a global TV audience of billions -- during the 17-day extravaganza starting on July 26:
Eiffel Tower
The most famous of the Paris landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, will welcome beach volleyball.
The action will take place in a temporary venue near the foot of the "Iron Lady".
Next door, the Champs de Mars park at the foot of the tower will host judo and wrestling.
Reviled by some Parisians when it was unveiled in 1889 for the World Fair by engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower has become the capital's symbol.
Besides being one of the world's top tourist attractions, pulling in seven million visitors a year, it is also a working telecoms tower, used for radio and TV transmissions.
Winners at the Paris Games will all go home with a small part of the iron colossus. Each medal will contain an 18g crumb of original iron, removed during renovations, melted down and reforged.
Grand Palais
Fencing and taekwondo battles will take place in the opulent setting of the Grand Palais exhibition hall, a glass-and-steel masterpiece created for the World Fair of 1900.
Its distinctive feature is its glass domed roof, the largest of its kind in Europe, which covers a cavernous exhibition space of 13,500 square meters.
During World War I, the Grand Palais put its art collection in storage and converted its galleries into a military hospital where soldiers were patched up before returning to the trenches.
In the 21st century, the airy nave has hosted giant installations commissioned from some of the world's leading artists.
It has also been flooded to make the biggest ice rink in the world.
Place de la Concorde
The vast, paved square at the foot of the Champs-Elysees avenue, where heads rolled (literally) during the French Revolution, will serve as an urban sports hub.
Skateboarding, 3x3 basketball, BMX freestyle and, in its first Games appearance, breakdancing, will all take place on the elegant square by the Seine.
Its harmonious name conceals a bloody past. King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were guillotined there in 1793 during the Reign of Terror that followed the 1789 French Revolution.
The largest square in Paris is defined by its huge gold obelisk, one of a pair originally erected by Ramses II outside the temple in Luxor in Egypt. It was gifted to Paris in 1830.
Palace of Versailles
Dressage, showjumping and equestrian cross country will take place in the park of Versailles Palace, some 20 kilometers from Paris. It also features on the marathon circuit and hosts pentathlon events.
In the 17th century, "the Sun King" Louis XIV transformed Versailles into a home of French royalty, where he resided with around 10,000 staff.
The vast gardens include a mile-long canal that once hosted opulent parties.
It has been a world heritage site since 1979 and is a firm favorite on the Paris tourist trail.
Marseille
The Olympics are spreading beyond the capital.
Sailing contests will take place in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, France's boisterous second city, better known as the home of Olympique Marseille football team.
Over 300 sailors from across the world will battle it out on the sapphire Mediterranean waters off the city. A marina has been built along the scenic Corniche coastal road heading southeast out of the city.
It's unlikely they'll have the sometimes ferocious mistral wind in their sails. It usually blows in winter and spring.
Marseille, which will also host 10 football matches, was where the Olympic torch landed in France on May 8 on its relay to Paris.