Real Madrid star Luka Modric has revealed he was left to feel completely "drained" following Croatia's stunning run to the World Cup final, ensuring he has had a slow and gradual build up to his best form so far this season.
Modric, 33, was the key man for his country throughout the summer competition, starting in all seven of Croatia's games as they finished as runners-up, and despite his gruelling schedule he was back in competitive action at club level within a month.
The midfielder - who was recently crowned FIFA Best Men's Player - has since started in four of Real's six league games to date, but he admitted he is still on the path back to his peak form and fitness following a condensed off season.
"When we arrived in Croatia and we saw all these people we were more than surprised. We drove on an open-top bus for seven hours. We didn't even feel it - we thought we were there for half an hour," Modric told FIFPro.
"It was so emotional to share all these joys with your people.
"I had only three weeks of holidays. I think that was the least since I have been playing football. The first week we spent in celebration, first day in Zagreb and after in our cities. It was not easy to start again; after all these emotional moments you are drained completely," he added.
Ahead of Real's clash with rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday, the Croatia international insisted he has put the World Cup behind him and now only has eyes for the success his club can achieve this season - starting with the local derby.
"I needed time to get back to my better level. Now I feel better and better, and now I need more games to get back to my best. It was not easy," he said.
"We were so eager to achieve something great with Croatia and when we did all these emotions came down on us and it's not easy to recover but now we are getting better. The season has started, we need to forget about it and concentrate on what is expected of us this season."