It had been more than 75 full minutes, and Real Madrid needed to score another goal, when "Luka Modric" decided to present a magical glimpse, most of those watching would be amazed.

It started when the Croatian succeeded in blocking Neymar's pass from the edge of the Meringue penalty area, and then ran like an arrow without any of the Paris Saint-Germain players succeeding in blocking him, before making a pass from the middle of the field, penetrating the entire advanced defense line.

Modric did not stop, but continued to run to receive the ball again, this time at the borders of the opponent's penalty area, to send the ball on a golden plate to Karim Benzema, and the latter took care of the rest.

If you are a Real Madrid fan, you may have jumped for joy, or grabbed your head, or even yelled at your friend who is sitting next to you. This is what Modric did in 20 seconds?

How did he have this presence and that physique at the age of thirty-six?

We did not find definitive answers to these questions until Mr. Vlatko Vucic agreed to speak to us, and explained everything.

In white, Luka Modric

Since this name ends with a syllable consisting of the letters t and shin, you may have guessed the nationality of its Croatian owner, but what you do not know is that he is the best person to answer any question regarding the physical efficiency of Luka Modric, why?

Because Mr. "Flatko" is the personal coach of the Real Madrid player, and he worked on developing his physical fitness until it reached this impressive level. This was done according to a systematic plan of action that began 7 years ago and continues to this day, so we are in the process of someone who knows "Modric" well.

The name "Vucic" appeared in the BBC's report on the brilliance of the Croatian player (1), and the Spanish newspaper AS said that it is the secret behind "Luka" retaining his strength despite his advanced age (2), while we in "

Midan

" succeeded in conducting the first press interview It is published in Arabic with Mr. "Flatko", during which we asked questions about his career as a coach, his cooperation with "Modric", and the importance of having a special fitness equipment for a professional player, and the man did not skimp on us in his responses.

Perhaps it is a prank of "Luka Modric"!

We knew that “Flatko” is a professor at the University of Zagreb, and like any professor, he must sanctify the appointments, and nothing irritates him as much as the delay, so we preferred safety, and we were waiting for him via the Zoom app five full minutes before the appointed time.

The name "Vlatko Vucic" appeared on the screen, but his picture did not appear yet, and even his voice was not clear at first.

Flatko Vucic

We asked him,

"Doctor Flatko, is there a problem? We can't hear you clearly, and the camera doesn't seem to work."

The man replied in a voice that began to become clear: "Yes, there is a problem, this computer in my university is very good, but there is always someone who tampers with it, and changes the place of the microphone and the camera, do you have any idea who the culprit is?"

A few seconds of silence, until this response jumped to mind: "Maybe it's a prank from Luka Modric?"

We didn't think that this simple joke would appeal to "Flatko" so much, but he burst out laughing, then told us: "Luca is not here, he is in Madrid preparing for Chelsea, do you think he appointed a spy in my office to do this prank?"

Thus was the beginning, "Vucic" smashed the strict stereotype about the university professor in a few minutes, so that he asked us, without artificiality, to stop calling him a professor or doctor, and contented himself with mentioning his name directly.

True, I admit that pronouncing the name will not be an easy task for non-native speakers, so he began to teach us how to divide it into small syllables.

He tried with us once, and again, and for a third, and after the fourth, he smiled and said, "Well done! Now you speak Croatian!"

Can you run 5,000 metres?

We knew that "Vlatko" was a professor at the University of Zagreb, but what does this academic title have to do with a practical profession such as training?

They are two different jobs, so how did our guest reconcile them?

This was our first question.

  • Flatko:

    “I have a Ph.D. in Kinesiology, so I am a professor at the university, where I teach over ten subjects. I also teach at the National Football Coaches Academy, where they use my knowledge during the UEFA A and UEFA courses. B, and even professional training courses.

At the same time, I'm the head of the Sports Diagnostics department here, which is a position that is more practical than theoretical, one of our tasks for example is to take accurate measurements of the athletes to improve their performance.

This gives me the opportunity to work as a personal trainer for a number of professionals, especially in football and tennis, and that's how I reconcile the two."

Flatco's work schedule seems to be very busy, but one of those jobs we were interested in was training, so we asked him: Since when did you start working as a fitness trainer?

  • Flatko:

    "Twenty years ago, not a short time, right?"

Of course it is, but what made him turn to training?

Why was he not satisfied with the academic path?

Vlatko began his answer with an interesting question: "Can you run for 5,000 metres? How about 10,000 metres? I was a former athletics champion in Croatia, I also practiced swimming for some time, and watched tennis and football. When I remember that, I feel sorry for Because I could not become a professional in any of those sports, especially football and tennis, but my passion for sports continued, so I turned to training.”

Well then why didn't he try to work as a tennis coach?

or swimming?

Or even get a football coaching license?

Why choose fitness specifically?

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Vlatko Vucetic (@vvucetic1602)

The man heard our question, and seemed to want to go further in his answer: “This is a good question! I studied sports theoretically, got to know its smallest details, and was sure that improving physical fitness would reflect positively on the professional athlete’s performance, and thus he would be able to achieve greater successes in his sport.”

In football, for example, I've noticed that the importance of speed and dynamism increases with time.

Questions like: What would I do as a coach if I wanted to have a strong team?

Maybe I should develop the players to be as efficient as possible, but how?

I started finding answers in my fourth year of university, as I built up good theoretical knowledge in my head, and set out to look for practical ways to apply that theoretical knowledge, i.e. simply become a coach.”

Our first impression of "Flatko" was that he is a light-hearted man, and his answer to these questions formed the second impression, which is that we are in front of a person whose life is sports.

He played more than one game, and even tried to become a professional, and when he failed, he willingly went to study sports in detail, before taking more than one position related to teaching or sports diagnosis.

Therefore, our guest has a long theoretical and practical experience in his field of specialization.

Less than 6 months?

Sorry, I'm looking for another coach

Vucic explained to us why he chose to work as a trainer in the field of fitness, and that answer gave us another question, which is why, then, he did not join the work as a physical trainer within the technical staff of a particular club?

Why is it preferred to be physically prepared for individual athletes?

  • Flatko:

    "Do you want a short or detailed answer?"

The man surprised us with that answer, but we were on the lookout for him: "Let's start with the short answer, then listen to the detailed."

  • Flatko:

    “The short answer is because I liked the training individually.

The story behind this dates back to my last year of study at the university, as I was one of the most outstanding students in my class, so I started working early in the Mathematical Diagnostics Department, then after a few months they assigned me the responsibility of heading this department!

What do we do in the department?

We examine a large number of professional athletes in various sports, according to scientific and accurate standards, and then each athlete receives an integrated report, which includes recommendations according to his condition, in order to reach a better physical condition.

I really liked the analysis of soccer and tennis players’ scans, what was even more exciting was that some players came to me afterwards, and then asked me to supervise their training individually, which was a great motivation to find out about new training methods to help these players.

That's how it all started, and that's where I had this fun journey."

Chance may have played a role in our guest’s preference for individual training, but what is certain is that he liked to see the results of his training directly with the players, and this also gave him more freedom to choose the appropriate training style for each player according to his condition, but does “Flatko” accept all the players who want to train under his supervision?

  • He replied decisively:

    “No, of course not. There is more than one criterion for accepting the player. The most important criterion is seriousness, if the player is not ready to work with me seriously, and for a period of no less than 6 months, then he should look for a physical trainer other than Flatco. The second criterion He has to do a preliminary test here in the diagnostic lab, I don't rely on any data unless I personally supervise the experiment."

Now that we have enough information about Vucic, we know who he is.

what does he do?

Why choose individual training?

And on what basis does he accept or refuse to work with a player?

It's time to get to know how he works as a physical trainer with the players, and Luka Modric is certainly among them.

Brozovic is weak, Luka doesn't run enough, and the Croats are lazy

Marcelo Brozovic (left) and Luka Modric

Within any technical staff, in any professional football team, there is at least one coach responsible for the fitness of the players.

This is an obvious fact that everyone who follows football knows.

Why, then, might a professional athlete need a trainer specifically to work with?

Is it not enough to rely on the coach who works within the technical staff?

We didn't want to provoke our guest with this question, but this time he seemed impulsive in his answer.

  • - Flatko:

    "Every athlete wants to reach perfect physical condition, he needs individual care. I don't say every football player, but every athlete! I don't say good condition, I say perfect condition!

As far as I know, no football club in the world is able to provide this individual care in the best possible way, because the clubs do not appoint coaches who work on the physical side sufficiently.

A player may go to take some general recommendations from his club coach, but these recommendations will not guarantee the highest possible physical efficiency.

I am here not accusing the coach, nor am I saying that he is the cause of the problem, those recommendations may be excellent, but this treatment is not characterized by a scientific methodology.

What I mean here is a specific set of factors, which should be measured before the player undergoes any training program, then build the program on its basis, and note the development he achieves during and after the end of the program.”

We did not wait long, until we asked him about those factors that he talked about very carefully: Can you tell us about the factors that you are interested in in your training program?

  • - Flatko:

    "It is eight factors. 1/ He thinks if he wants to move in a certain direction. 4/ The player's motor abilities, by measuring speed, ability to run, etc. 5 / The physical load that his body can absorb. 6/ Perceptual strength. 7/ Personal characteristics of the player 8/ Finally, the economic and family situation. I'm afraid these terms sound difficult, are they?"

This time it was the guest who asked the question, and our answer was: "No, it's very clear, we just have to study kinesiology for 4 years, to know what cognitive power is."

Dr. Vucic smiled, then said, “Perceptual power of a player is his ability to make decisions and look for solutions on the field. Sometimes a player is described as smart, because he made a good decision with or without the ball. I'm trying to gauge how much a player has this skill, Do you want to know how I measure it? This is what would be needed to study kinesiology."

While our guest talks about the need for a scientific methodology in the training program, it occurred to us to ask him about the secret behind the excellence of the Croatian players physically, but we were surprised by his reaction, as soon as we said: “Flatko, there is an impression of the talent of the Croatian players on the physical level, what in the opinion of… The man did not allow us to complete the question, and he interrupted us for the first and last time in this conversation.

  • - Vlatko:

    "No, no, this is an illusion. Not all Croatian players are physically gifted."

  • -What you mean?!

  • - Vlatko:

    “I assure you that many Croatian players were not born with great physical characteristics, but some of them were suffering from this level when he started playing football. I mean some of them were not running well, or even had a deficiency in the level of strength and energy, But they were skilled and technically superior.

Look at a player like Luka Modric, he wasn't running that hard when he started, and even after his star hit, he was sometimes tired physically after 70 minutes of high tempo.

Another player, Marcelo Brozovic, has suffered from a lack of strength and energy in the past.

Today, you will find the situation is different, because this duo addressed their problems, after they did work and training, a lot of training, to raise their physical efficiency.

Here comes the importance of the presence of the physical equipment in the career of the player and the youngster, and the importance of a methodology in which the preparer works with the player is multiplied, this is what I was telling you about a while ago.”

We had told you that the guest did not skimp on us in his answers, and here you see how he explained to us the positive impact of the work of the personal trainer, the methodology he takes in his work, as well as the standards he looks at, before surprising us with his opinion about the physical shortcomings of the Croatian players.

It remains to be known that Dr. "Vucic" directs more severe criticism of his compatriots in the local media, and I reached once to describe the Croatian player as lazy, and when asked about the reason, he said that his view of football requires that the player spare no effort, and put his full focus in developing what he has constantly, which rarely happens. (3) How many hours of rigorous training did Modric or Brozovic undergo in order for our guest to exempt them from the accusation of laziness?

Do you own a resistance rope like Modric?

We had come to the most exciting part of this dialogue, which is definitely about Luka Modric.

Excitement was evident in our voice, until Flatko noticed and said, "You're probably asking me now about working with Luca, right?"

We answered, "Yes, that's right."

Our guest picked up a piece of paper from his desk, then raised it in front of the camera and said, "This is the training program that I prepared during the week for all the players I train individually."

The word (all players) was tempting enough for us to ask for names other than Modric, but Vucic replied with a laugh: "No, I won't tell you any. Perhaps I can say that there are currently 26 football players, Some of them have Croatian, German or Kosovar citizenship, but I won't tell you who they are. You know one of them, and that's enough."

  • How and when did you get to know Modric?

  • -Flatko:

    "Ah! That was a very long time ago!

He came here, in the diagnostic department lab, many years ago.

This was with a number of Croatian players under the supervision of the Federation, with the aim of conducting tests.

The interesting thing is that his numbers were not distinguished. On the contrary, I remember that he needed to develop in aspects such as the capacity.

I handed him his report, and I didn't work with him directly, not even pitching him the idea.

But 7 years ago, Luka came here again with the Croatian national team.

He scanned, and I analyzed his data.

I talked to him about some of the physical characteristics that he should pay attention to, he listened to me carefully, and after a few months, he contacted me, so that we could start a special training program.”

  • Can you tell us about how you train Luca?

    He is most of the time in Madrid and you are in Croatia, so how do you train him?

  • Vlatko:

    “Modric and I are in contact every day. When he is in Madrid, I communicate with him via Whatsapp. When he is here in Croatia, I communicate with him and the Croatian coach directly.

Send him the exercises I want to do every day.

I specify for him the required movements, as well as the range of groups and numbers, as well as the length of time for training.

I might ask him to do 25 minutes before the start of Carlo Ancelotti's session, and then add two minutes after that.

Of course what I send out varies from day to day, what I ask to do on the day of an important match does not necessarily coincide with what I want him to do the day before the match, and this and that is different from what he should do while recovering from injury.

Thus, the training program is subject to Modric's situation and needs, as well as the conditions of the team and the schedule of matches."

  • Are there specific tools that you rely on in your training for Modric?

  • Flatko:

    “Yes. I rely on the resistance rope. I know that many coaches and athletes have noticed the importance of resistance training in recent years, but I saw that importance twenty years ago. You as a coach can rely on it to train a young child, or an old person , or someone who plays sports as a hobby, even a professional player like Modric, and you will come out with good results anyway.

I also rely on the treadmill, I want the player to master the movement of running in the four directions: forward, backward, to the right side, to the left.

There is a pattern of running that is important for professional athletes, based on running at a high speed such as 20 or 22 km / h for a number of seconds, then resting or running at a low speed for a number of seconds, and so on for a number of sets.

Vucic's talk about his dependence on the resistance rope was exciting, so we asked him: How important is the use of the resistance rope in training a professional footballer?

The man answered quickly, as if he was waiting for our question.

  • Flatko:

    "I'll tell you! Resistance training helps to form a flexible body, which makes movement easier and more efficient. If the player is assured of the effectiveness of his movement, he can launch and change directions easily, and this is a very important skill for a football player, especially if he is in his position in the middle of the playground"

Once he finished answering that, Flatko advised us to check his Instagram account, because we'll find clips of those exercises.

The happy surprise is that we stumbled upon a clip where Modric appears in person while doing an exercise on the treadmill.

Luka runs focused, then changes directions as soon as he hears our friend Vucic's instructions, and then keeps running again.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Vlatko Vucetic (@vvucetic1602)

63 km in Russia

  • How do you know that Luca is doing well physically?

    Does your training program include following Modric's data and statistics during training and matches?

  • -Flatko listened to the question, smiled with great confidence, then said: "Good question, but you should know that the job of the private coach requires a great deal of experience with the coach, and I have twenty years of experience, so I only need to hear Luca's voice on a call Telephone after a tough game so I know how to perform.

Of course, I use data from training or matches he is in, and compare the results with what I expect.

And sometimes there are graphs that help me a lot to assess the quality of the exercises, on my phone now there is a graph of a player after he underwent a training that I designed for him.”

We negotiated with Vucic to send a copy of that chart, and after we occupied it, the man willingly agreed, and then we coddled more in his generosity to ask him the name of the owner of that chart. ".

An infographic sent to us by Vlatko Vucic on the training of one of his players.

An infographic sent to us by Vlatko Vucic on the training of one of his players.

  • To what extent do you think your coaching work with Modric has had a positive impact on his career?

  • - Flatko: “It's not a good question, it's a difficult question, because it is about evaluating my work.

I will tell you something important, when he came to Modric for the first time, he asked me: Dr. Flatko, can you help me play more years through your training program?

My answer to him was: Absolutely!

Luca is a seasoned footballer, with skills, tactics and experience. What he lacked was energy and ability, to be able to play for years.

I told him that if he sticks to the program I'm going to design, I'm sure he won't get many injuries, and the program will also reduce his fatigue, and thus give him the opportunity to get more participation.

Maybe here he should compare his physical condition in the past, when he was exhausted after 65-70 minutes of the game, with his condition now that he plays for 90 or 100 minutes, and I think he is performing at 99% of what he has now.”

We dragged this answer, looking for some stats about Modric.

Flatko talked about injuries, and we found that Luca has been injured five times this season;

One of them was due to the Corona virus, and another due to his infection with a cold, leaving three physical injuries.

Including what forced him to miss training for only two or four days, and all of these injuries did not prevent him from participating in only four matches in all tournaments, a great record, right?! (4)

Compare that record to the Croatian's previous injuries, and you'll see that a real transformation has taken place.

Before Luka cooperated with our guest directly, ie the 2014/2015 season, the Croatian maestro suffered a severe injury to the hamstring muscle, and another to the knee.

The first prevented him from playing for 112 days, and the second for 72 days, as two injuries prevented him from appearing in 32 matches. (5) Perhaps this was the motive for hiring a special equipment.

Forget about injuries, and look at Modric's stats this season.

UEFA says that he managed to run more than 114 km in 12 matches in the European Championship, an average of more than 9.5 km per match. (6) Do you see how many players over 36 can run that distance?

Most likely not much.

Because people of his age don't have their best time on the field, but spend most of it on the bench.

What's more, is what we found out when we compared Luca's running rate to that of his teammates in the Real Madrid midfield.

Prepare for that surprise, because the Croatian has the second best rate after Casemiro.

Even the Brazilian player did not beat Modric by a wide margin, as he averaged just over 9.6 km per match. (7) Isn't that all an indication of the quality of Flatko's work?

We asked him about the moment he felt that Modric had made the most of his training programme.

The guest did not waste much time and said: "The World Cup in Russia 2018".

The man was silent for a while, as if he was remembering something, we didn't want to cut his rope of thoughts, before he added: "You don't know how Luca was so focused during this tournament, he carried out every training he sent him daily very accurately, which I think was reflected on his performance".

The guest's response was a motive to search for statistics related to "Luca" in the World Cup in Russia.

We don't want to crack your head with more numbers, but suffice to know that he was the one who ran the most during the tournament, having produced an enviable solo performance and leaving his mark in every step of Croatia towards the final.

He covered 64 kilometers on Russian stadiums, (8), outperforming "Rakitic", "Kylian Mbappe" and "N'Golo Kante" personally.

Don't retire in your thirties

We knew before the interview with "Flatko" that "Modric" is preparing to extend his contract with Real Madrid, but the duration of the new contract has not yet been revealed.

Luca will most likely be on the verge of forty when the time expires, and he may be over forty, who knows?

But will his physical abilities decline significantly in the coming years?

We asked our guest: Is there a certain age at which a footballer's physical aptitude declines?

  • -Flatko:

    "Yes, but let me explain. If you are a soccer player, your physical ability decreases after thirty or thirty-three, according to the theory. In practice, players are not a standardized version, you might find a player who feels helpless at the age of twenty-eight, Another strong and fast and he is 35. It depends on the training."

  • How does it depend on training?

  • -فلاتكو: "يعتمد على كيفية التأهيل البدني للاعب خلال فترة العشرينات، وكذلك على البرنامج الذي سيخضع له بعد الثلاثين، ففي ذلك السن، على اللاعب أن يتمرن أكثر وأكثر. وبشكل عام، كلما ازداد عمر اللاعب، فإن عليه العناية بتدريباته أكثر"
  • -كيف يمكن أن يلعب المعد البدني الخاص دورًا في إطالة مسيرة اللاعب لبعد عامه الثلاثين؟
  • -فلاتكو: "دعني أبدأ إجابتي من اللاعب. هناك لاعب يريد أن يطيل مسيرته بشكل حقيقي، وهناك لاعب آخر لا يريد، ربما ﻷنه قد جمع ما يكفي من المال، ولا يحب أن يكون تحت أي ضغوط أخرى. النوع الأول الذي يريد إطالة مسيرته لأقصى مدّة ممكنة، عليه التركيز على الرياضة والتغذية والتمرين في كل يوم.. كل يوم!

هذا ليس أمرًا سهلًا، لأن اللاعب لن ينعم بالحرية في أمور عديدة، كتناول الحلوى مع أسرته يوم العيد، أو شرب الكحول مع أصدقائه كلما قابلهم. وكما سيهتم بالتغذية، فإن عليه أيضًا الاهتمام بالجانب النفسي وكذلك البدني. وهنا أقول أن من الضروري أن يستعين بمدرب بدني خاص، ولا يعتمد فقط على التمرينات التي يوفرها النادي، لماذا؟

لأن اللاعب ليس ذكيًا بما يكفي كي يصمم برنامجًا تدريبيًا يلائمه، فهو لا يمتلك المعرفة العلمية ولا يعرف الأدوات التي ينبغي الاستعانة بها، ولا يفهم آليات عمل الجسم وقت التعافي من الإصابة. أنا هنا لا أقلل من شأن اللاعب، أو أتهم أحدًا بالغباء، بل أقول أنني شخصيًا لست ذكيًا بما يكفي رغم أنني أحمل شهادة الدكتوراة وأقوم بالتدريس، إلا أنني مثلًا أستعين بخبير تغذية، ولا أحب أن ارتجل أو اعتمد على معلومة لست واثقًا من صحتها. أنا أذهب للرجل المختص، وأنفذ ما يقوله. وهكذا ينبغي أن يفعل اللاعب".

This was our last question for our guest, we thanked him first for conducting the interview, and secondly for his answers which were more detailed than we had expected.

The man replied shyly and humbly: Thank you, I have friends in the Arab world today, and I am happy with that.

____________________________________________

Sources:

  • 1- BBC report on Luka Modric. 

  • 2- AS Network interview with Vlatko Vucic. 

  • 3- Vucic's interview with the local press. 

  • 4/5- Modric scored with injuries. 

  • 6/7- Statistics of Real Madrid players on the UEFA website. 

  • 8- Modric has run the most in the World Cup in Russia. 

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