Mason Mount relishes the opportunity to face Luka Modric again, a month after the Croatian playmaker left him stunned by asking for his jersey.
England kick off their Euro 2020 campaign on Sunday by hosting Modric’s country at Wembley for a Group D game. Croatia, of course, ended the Three Lions’ run at the World Cup three years ago. Modric was a key player in this semi-final, who finished 2-1 against their nation after extra time.
Now England want revenge, but they will have to contain Modric. Mount will be involved in this battle in the midfield, just as he was when his Chelsea side faced Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.
As such, the winner of the Champions League hope to have another good match against one of his inspirations.
“He’s always been a player that I admire,” said Mount. “Since he’s been in the Premier League with Tottenham, I’ve watched him very closely.
“Playing against him was weird because I had watched him so much, I kind of knew his moves and what he was going to do.
“It helps to be a fan of a player and then play against him because you know what he likes to do.
“The experience of playing against him helps because you want to be in those big games and learn to deal with the pressure and the big moments.
“These two games were huge in our race and I gained a lot of experience from those two games.”
After the clash between Chelsea and Madrid at Stamford Bridge, Mount walked away with Modric’s jersey at the exchange request of the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner.
“I spoke to (Mateo) Kovacic before the first game and asked him if I could get his jersey at a later date,” Mount said.
“I managed to do it and he asked me for mine in the second game because I didn’t give him mine in the first.
“Kova said he liked to interact with the players, so he came over and said he wanted mine, just said good luck for the next few games.
“It was great for me obviously talking to him and he wants my shirt. So I was pretty overwhelmed, yeah.
Mount said it was “special” to know that such a prestigious player wanted his shirt.
“Special,” he said with a smile. “I have it at home with a few others that I have had over the past two months or so. It’s always good to keep those special shirts.
Mount also spoke about another of his childhood idols and a man who went on to become his manager at Chelsea, Frank Lampard.
Lampard worked with Mount in County Derby and then at Stamford Bridge, often remaining confident.
The 22-year-old has confirmed he is still in touch with the former Blues boss, who has helped him grow into the player he is today.
“I don’t really try to watch what’s going on the outside too much, whether it’s good or bad,” Mount said. “I feel like it’s not going to improve you on the pitch.
“What I like to focus on are the people who really matter a lot on the pitch and have helped me grow as a player.
“It’s always something I’ve tried to do and I’m obviously very confident in my abilities and what I can do. So, yeah, that’s the most important thing for me.
Mount hopes for euro hit with best friend Rice
When Mount has been criticized in the past, not only Lampard has defended him, but also Declan Rice.
His best friend, they moved to Chelsea academy together until Rice moved to West Ham. From now on, they will represent their country together on the international stage.
Of course, they will be close during the tournament.
“He’s right there next door and every time he wakes up – he wakes up earlier than me – and he tries to knock on my door and wake me up to go to breakfast every morning,” Mount said.
“I might have to go down a few doors so I’m not right next to him!”
“Having my best mate with me and having that experience with him and of course all the other boys too, it means a lot and it’s something very special to us and that we will remember for a long time. “
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With a Champions League medal in his cabinet, Mount is now hoping England can advance to the Euro final at Wembley on July 11.
“Obviously knowing the history we have never won euros before,” he said. “So for us, we are a team that really wants to want to do this.
“We want to create a story that no one has ever done before and I feel like with this group, with this young group, we can definitely do it and we know what we can do.
“We know the level of players we have in this group and how close we are together, and how eager we are to make history. So we just have to go and play on the pitch now. “
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