MASON MOUNT went to England’s last major tournament as a starstruck fan.
Tomorrow the Champions League-winning Chelsea midfielder will line up against childhood idol Luka Modric as an equal — after the Croatia legend asked HIM to complete a shirt swap.
Mason Mount is ready to test his wits against Luka Modric yet again[/caption]
Mount and fellow young England prospects Phil Foden and Ryan Sessegnon were whisked off to Russia by sponsors to take in a Three Lions group game and experience everything that surrounds a World Cup.
Mount, now 22, said: “The Russia trip, I look back at the pictures now and we all look so young.
“I was very lucky enough to watch one of the group games. So even to be around it and witness that atmosphere of a major tournament, I remember that very vividly.
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“I remember walking around the TV set and we did a little interview with Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker and we actually stumbled across Cesc Fabregas and had a little chat.
“He actually remembered me from training at Chelsea and, yeah, we know he’s an absolute legend with what he’s done in the sport.
“For us to have a little chat with him, and Lineker and Shearer as well, it was special to be around those people and learn little bits from them.
“It was a special trip and we all really enjoyed it.”
But like every other England fan, Mount did not enjoy the 2-1 semi-final defeat by Croatia.
Was he too old, at 19, to join in the tears of a nation after watching at home with his family?
The Croatian legend is ready to play his 139th game for his country[/caption]
Mount, Foden and Sessegnon travel to the World Cup as fans[/caption]
Mount said: “I don’t think you’re ever too old to have a cry. Especially when your country loses.
“I’m a fan, so to watch that, I was probably pretty close.
“Obviously to witness England get to a final, it would have been unbelievable. We were that close.
“Whenever you’re watching your country play, you’re very emotionally involved and it means a lot.
“I was at home with my family watching that. Obviously seeing Kieran Tripper score the free-kick and then they go on to win the game, it was heartbreaking to watch, let alone be a player and be involved in it.
“But I think those kind of experiences and those kind of games give you that extra fire in the belly to want to put something right.
“That’s definitely something that’s in our minds and going to push us on to really perform like we know we can.”
Mount has already gained a little bit of personal revenge over Real Madrid’s 35-year-old star Modric.
Mount, right, watched Modric run the show at the World Cup[/caption]
The Stamford Bridge ace grabbed the crucial second goal in last month’s Champions League semi-final second leg at home between the two teams — having already secured the Croatian maestro’s jersey after the first leg in Madrid.
Mount said: “He has always been a player I have looked up to. Ever since he has been in the Premier League with Tottenham, I have watched him quite closely.
“I spoke to Mateo Kovacic before the first game and asked if I could get his shirt at a later date.
“I managed to do that and he asked for mine in the second game because I didn’t actually give him mine in the first.
“Kova said he likes to swap with players, so he came up and said he wanted mine and said good luck in the upcoming games.
“It was brilliant for me obviously to speak to him . . . and he wants MY shirt, so I was quite overwhelmed.”
But the point was that Mount and Chelsea had NOT been overwhelmed by Modric and Real — they had outplayed them twice to earn a place in the Champions League final.
Mount said: “Playing against him, it was weird because I had watched him so much, I kind of knew his moves and what he was going to do.
Mount and Modric came up against each other in the Champions League[/caption]
“The experience of playing against him helps because you want to be in these big games and learn how to handle the pressure and big moments.”
Mount and Chelsea did that again in the final in Porto, where Kai Havertz’s goal secured a 1-0 win over Manchester City and a second European title for the Blues.
Only nine players have ever won the European Cup/ Champions League and European Championship in the same year.
And two of them are Chelsea stars who Mount grew up supporting — Juan Mata and Fernando Torres, who triumphed with the Blues and Spain in 2012.
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Mount added: “I remember that Spain team and how dominant they were at that time.
“We can always look forward and hope.
“It’s obviously a very small list but we’ll see what happens.”
And a lot has happened to Mount in the last three years.
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