Football on Tyneside The history of the Football League during the Great War has been extensively covered by a number of authors.
Iceland, a nation of just three hundred thousand, made their first World Cup. Panama did too, and Egypt and Peru returned after long spells away from the tournament. Japan so nearly made the quarter-finals, only to be denied by the Belgians. England ventured farther than they thought they ever might, but the Croatians came out on top in the semi-finals.
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And this Croatian side, this team in their first final, might have more great stories than any other side at the World Cup. It starts, as it always does with Croatia, with Luka Modric. When he was just six, the Croatian War of Independence broke out, and his grandfather was War and football.
He became a refugee for years, living in hotels after the family home was burned to the ground. Initially rejected by Hajduk Split because of his small frame, Modric worked hard enough to work his way back up and eventually joined Dinamo Zagreb as a year-old.
The rest, as they say, is history. The war lasted until the end ofwith almost the whole squad affected in some way.
Croatian-born Mario Mandzukic was also a refugee, fleeing to Germany with his parents at the age of six and spending his formative years there. And there are so many other stories in there too.
And despite this hardship, these young lads could grab a football, go out to the park or the street, and kick it around.
They would dream of playing for Hajduk, or Dinamo Zagreb, and of playing for their national team. Coach Zlatko Dalic was picked out of noted footballing hotbed United Arab Emirates to manage the side with just one game of qualifying to go.
But they pulled through, with an emphatic win against Greece, and made the tournament. The last story, one that really pulls at my heartstrings, is that of Hrvoje Custic. Custic was a midfielder with ten youth appearances for his country, and playing for Zadar in the top tier of Croatian football.
Inhe collided with a concrete wall in a match, and five days later, he passed away. Inwhen Andres Iniesta scored the winning goal in the World Cup final, he revealed a shirt in memoriam of Dani Jarque, a Spanish footballer who had passed away the year before.
He got the chance to honour Dani on the biggest stage of all. I want these boys, refugees of a war they had no part in, to be able to realise those childhood dreams. And I want a country of four million people, a country who had been written off before the tournament started, to lift the trophy at the Luzhniki.
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Walter Tull, footballer and British black war hero. He was one of English football's first black players and the British Army's first ever black officer to command white troops. There is a long tradition of likening football to war, from paeans to the “generalship” of quarterbacks in the s to the “wars in the trenches” of the modern game.
Football on Tyneside The history of the Football League during the Great War has been extensively covered by a number of authors. This account concerns itself with matters of local interest, in particular the measures taken to keep the game going, and the emergence of the "Munitionettes" teams set up by female workers in the .