Modric: Sochaux passed up Real Madrid midfielder as 18-year-old
Sochaux's assistant coach, Mehmed Bazdarevic, has recalled missing out on signing a midfielder who is now a star for Real and Croatia.
The world of football is full of tales of future global stars slipping through clubs' fingers: Sir Alex Ferguson deciding a young Franck Ribéry wasn't good enough for Manchester United, Real Madrid letting Samuel Eto'o go, Valencia and Barcelona opting against buying Cristiano Ronaldo...
And it has this week emerged that modest French outfit Sochaux passed up the chance to snap up an 18-year-old Luka Modric - now pulling the strings in midfield for LaLiga giants Real Madrid - from first club Dinamo Zagreb.
Sochaux assistant on Modric: "I fell in love"
Sochaux's assistant coach at the time, Mehmed Bazdarevic, travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2003 to watch Modric, who was on loan from Zagreb at Zrinjski Mostar, and - unsurprisingly - was impressed with what he saw.
"He had immense talent for eliminating his opponent with his great ball control and the fluidity of his play," Bazdarevic has recalled in quotes published by France Football on Tuesday. "I fell in love."
"We saw him before everyone else"
However, Sochaux baulked at Zagreb's asking price of 5m euros, which would have been a club record for the Frenchmen, and turned their attentions elsewhere.
Modric, now Croatia captain, has gone on to establish himself as one of the world's best players, shining at Dinamo (via another loan spell, at Inter Zapresic) and, after four years at Tottenham Hotspur, joining Real in 2012.
"But we saw him before everyone else," notes Bazdarevic.