Luka Modric has admitted that the 2018 World Cup took a heavy toll on his body, as well as his mind.
The Real Madrid midfielder's performances helped Croatia reach the tournament's final and saw him win the Golden Ball in the end. But the Vatreni would stumble at the final hurdle, losing to France in an exciting showdown on the last day.
Modric was in action for Madrid on Wednesday night as they beat Italian side AS Roma 3-0 in the first group stage match of the new Champions League campaign and put on a grand display. Speaking after the match, he said he is feeling better every day, following his gruelling and mentally challenging World Cup exploits.
"The World Cup caused me a lot of physical and mental exhaustion, but I feel better every day and I hope to continue playing as I did tonight," he told reporters, via MARCA.
The 33-year-old also praised his team's performance against the Serie A side, claiming that they played a "complete match".
"Very happy for our performance as a team and for the victory, we played a very complete match," he declared. "We created many chances and we were able to score more than three goals."
Asked what it's like to work alongside the likes of Casemiro and Toni Kroos, the veteran midfielder boasted they could play together with their eyes closed.
"Of course I feel very comfortable with them," he said. "We have played together for more than three years, we know each other almost with our eyes closed, but I also feel very comfortable with others."
It has been quite the year for Modric. The Croatian captured the Champions League for the third straight time with Los Blancos at the end of last season, before going on to win the World Cup's Golden Ball and then the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award.
He's now thought to be a top candidate for the Ballon d'Or, but he says he isn't obsessing over it, although winning the accolade would make him very happy.
"Proud that the fans and teammates ask for it, but it does not obsess me," he claimed. "The important thing is the team, if I win it, very well, I will be very happy, but if that's not the case, life goes on."