Mason Mount had received a message that Luka Modric wanted to speak, yet the reality of their meeting took time to process.
Moments after Chelsea had thrown Real Madrid out of the Champions League, with Mount scoring the goal that had confirmed his side were heading to Porto to fight in the final, Modric sought the 22-year-old midfielder. He had come with a request for a souvenir.
“I had talked to Mateo Kovacic before the first stage and asked if I could get Modric’s jersey at a later date,” Mount said.
Mason Mount (L) believes he knows Luka Modric’s traits after looking up to him as a child
‘Kova said he likes swapping with players so he came up and said he wanted mine. Then he just said good luck in the upcoming games. It was brilliant to talk to him.
‘Because he wants my shirt? I was pretty overwhelmed. ‘
Mount’s reaction was so natural. As a young boy, he watched Modric closely and studied all movements.
The feints, the mix, the hidden passes and the ability to hold on to a ball, the Croatian is the kind of football player who provides an education every time he steps on a pitch.
But Modric, 35, is also humble and recognizes quality, something that oozes from the Chelsea star. That a former Ballon d’Or winner asked for Mount’s jersey after one of the biggest games of the year reflects his current status within the game.
‘Playing against him, it was weird because I had seen him so much, I knew a little bit about his moves and what he wanted to do,’ Mount said.
‘The experience of playing against him helps because you want to be part of these great games and learn to deal with the pressure and the big moments.’
The Chelsea star was a big fan of Croatia when he was in the Premier League with Spurs
Mount’s England side face modrics Croatia in the Euro 2020 opening on Sunday
The jersey, Mount received in return from Modric, is now safely at home, tucked away with ‘a few others’ that he has collected in recent months, but what will happen tomorrow at Wembley if Modric again seeks him out looking for a another souvenir?
‘I’m not so sure if we’re allowed to trade or not,’ Mount said. ‘But I think I want to look at keeping every single shirt I wear. It’s the euro, I do not want to give them away. ‘
Surrendering possession – or possessions – is not something that Mount makes easy. He shielded a question in St George’s Park yesterday about whether he considered himself a regular England starter. It did not matter that he would not answer: everyone knows that is exactly what he is.
Gareth Southgate has always thought of Mount Mount, ever since he was one of the most talked about teenage talents in the under 17s, and the high hopes that were dashed for him five years ago have certainly come true.
It should be noted that Mount was invited to train with England’s team before the last World Cup, long before he had even been selected for the Under 21s.
Mount admitted he was ‘overwhelmed’ that Modric wanted his jersey after their Champions League clash this season
He ended up going out to Russia on a trip organized by Nike along with Phil Foden and Ryan Sessegnon to get a pointer for the future.
‘I look back at the pictures now and we all look so young,’ Mount said, smiling at the memory. ‘It was a special trip and we all enjoyed it.
‘I remember we walked around the BBC set doing a little interview with Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker and we actually stumbled upon Cesc Fabregas.
“We had a little chat with him and he recognized me from training at Chelsea.
‘We know he is an absolute legend and what he has done in the sport.
‘For us to have a little chat with him and Lineker and Shearer then it was special to be around them and learn little bits.’
The English star will look towards Modric on Sunday after an excellent season
That the same experts will now analyze him – and the Foot – over the next four weeks shows the progress he has made.
These young men represent a fresh, exciting generation, blessed with great technical ability, who have the potential to advance England.
They do not play with fear and the confidence they have should be budding, especially Mount, whose performance against Manchester City in Porto was an upcoming night. After winning the biggest club trophy of them all, what is there to fear?
Certainly he is happy to step out at Wembley and put his witness against Modric again. Should things go as he has dreamed, there will be games at Wembley that can be enjoyed all the way to the final on 11 July.
‘We’ve been without fans for over a year until recently, and to get them back, even a few thousand in Porto, it was such a special atmosphere,’ Mount said. ‘It’s something we as players thrive on.
‘When you play in front of the fans, you always have the little thing about “What if?” and “What can there be?” later on the line when hopefully there is a packed Wembley. That would be incredible. You think about it, but for me it’s about staying focused.
“We won the Champions League at a good time, and I take that confidence into the first game. So yes, there is a lot to look forward to. ‘
That is for sure. Let the games begin.