Happy Birthday – September 9 – Luka Modric, Andrea Petkovic, Oscar

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(L-R) Modric, Petkovic and Oscar.

From worn torn beginnings, Luka Modric has gone on to become one of the most gifted midfielders in world football.

His childhood coincided with the Croatian War of Independence and it was at this time he began playing football.

Celebrating his 30th birthday today, the ice cold Real Madrid man is still dictating and running the show at one of the world’s biggest clubs.

Funny then, that just months after joining Madrid from Tottenham in the summer of 2012, he was named La Liga’s biggest transfer flop of the year by sports daily, Marca.

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But after that stuttering start Modric’s influence on Los Blancos has developed to the extent that it could be argued he is the second most important ‘Galactico’ after Cristiano Ronaldo.

And he has the titles to match; Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup.

1976: Mattias Ohlund, is a Swedish ice hockey defenceman currently under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning (39).

1984: Brad Guzan, is an American goalkeeper who plays for Aston Villa and the USA national team (31).

1987: Andrea Petkovic, is a German tennis player who is currently ranked 114 in the world (28).

1991: Oscar, is an attacking midfielder for Chelsea and the Brazil national team (24).

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On this day: Graf shakes Seles awake from glorious dream

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Seles was so close to making a historic comeback.

After spending 28 months in limbo as she recovered from the emotional and physical trauma of being stabbed on the tennis court by a deranged German man who felt the No1 ranking should belong to Steffi Graf instead of her, Monica Seles rose like a phoenix from the ashes at the 1995 US Open.

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It’s 20 years to the day that the magnificent first chapter after that despicable attack reached a tearful end.

The then 21-year-old Seles was seemingly invincible on way to the final but in a wildly uneven final-round match that pitted Seles against the very woman on whose behalf she was attacked, Graf prevailed, 7-6 (8-6), 0-6, 6-3, and captured her 18th Grand Slam singles title.

1960: Blackpool’s derby against Bolton was the first Football League match to be televised live.

2000: Michael Schumacher won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza to get his F1 title bid back on track. An emotional Schumacher broke down in tears after the race.

2007: Asafa Powell broke the 100m world record by three hundredths of a second after running 9.74 seconds at the Rieti Grand Prix in Italy.

2012: Serena Williams won her 15th grand slam singles title at the US Open.

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From Cantona to Balotelli: 10 memorable player-fan interactions

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This Atlético Mineiro fan got his money's worth with a Ronaldinho hug.

Last week after Novak Djokovic won his second round US Open clash with Austria’s Andrea Haider-Maurer, he took part in a highly entertaining dance-off with an enthusiastic fan who had been at it in the stands all evening. The encounter ended with the fan slipping a ‘I ♥ NY’ shirt over the world No. 1.

Spectators are an important part of any professional sport so here Sport360 looks at the good, the bad and the downright ugly of player-fan interactions over the years.

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1) MIGGY WINS OVER A FAN 
What do you do if you’re a two-time American League MVP award winner and a young fan from the opposite team has been trash-talking you all night? Give him a bat, a game ball, and a pair of batting gloves, of course.

That’s what baseball legend Miguel Cabrera did earlier this summer when the Detroit Tigers played the Cleveland Indians.

The Venezuelan enjoyed a humorous back-and-forth with a Cleveland fan that ended with Cabrera walking over from the bench to hand the shocked youngster a bat, a ball and some batting gloves.

2) A SELFIE FOR THE AGES
In 2014, then-AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli sportingly agreed to pose for a selfie with two young fans who stormed on to the pitch during a friendly against Manchester City at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field stadium.

The fans ended up posting the picture on Twitter and proudly boasted that they were not punished for their on-field shenanigans. 

3) INZY GOES BONKERS IN TORONTO
During a 1997 India versus Pakistan cricket match in Toronto, an Indian fan in the crowd armed with a megaphone decided to jibe former Pakistani cricketer Inzamam-ul-Haq by calling him a ‘mota aaloo, sara alloo’ – Urdu for ‘fat potato, rotten potato’.

With his team on the field defending a paltry total, Inzy charged at the spectator with a bat in his hands. It took several security staff and spectators to pull the burly Pakistani away but not before the abusive fan sustained several bruises and a torn shirt.

4) POST-MATCH TRADE
After his Seattle Sounders side recorded a 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo in an MLS matc last year, Clint Dempsey made a young fan’s evening when he exchanged his shirt with the youngster for a handful of popcorn.

The former Fulham and Spurs attacker jokingly took the entire bucket before returning it to the fan – after all, too much buttery goodness can’t be great for a professional footballer’s diet.

5) FREE HUGS FROM RONALDINHO
It’s hard to find a football fan that doesn’t have a soft spot in their heart for Ronaldinho. During a match between Ronaldinho's Atlético Mineiro and Colombian side Sante Fe last year, a lovesick fan ran onto the pitch mid-game to give the Brazilian a hug.

As classy as ever, Ronaldinho retuned the hug and even walked the watery-eyed young man off the pitch along with the security personnel.

6) GREEN POWER
Since 2009, there has been an extra reason to avoid getting a penalty if you were playing against the Vancouver Canucks at home.

The Green Men are two diehard Canucks fans named Adam Forsyth and Ryan Sullivan, who set up camp right next to the opposing team's penalty box during Canucks games. They are donned in full-body green spandex suits and strive to make life hell for any non-Canucks player who finds himself in the sin bin.

7) MCILROY POCKETS A PAR
In one of the more bizarre incidents seen on a golf course, Rory McIlroy’s tee-shot on the 14th hole at the 2014 Tour Championship landed in the front right pocket of a spectator’s shorts.

With the help of a rules official, McIlroy was awarded a free drop after the fan was instructed not to move from his spot and take the ball out of his pocket. “I wasn’t going in there,” McIlroy chuckled after his round. “I know how sweaty my pockets are and I’m not going in anyone else’s.”

8) MALICE AT THE PALACE
When it comes to fan-player fights, the infamous Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons brawl on November 19, 2004 will go down as one of the ugliest incidents in basketball history.

An ill-tempered game at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan ended when scuffles broke out between players during the last moments of the game. But when a fan threw a drink at the Pacers’ Ron Artest, it sparked a huge brawl between players and fans, which saw Artest charge into the stands to attack a spectator.

The aftermath saw the NBA suspend nine players for a total of 146 games and five supporters faced criminal charges to go along with lifelong stadium bans.

9) KUNG FU CANTONA.
On January 25, 1995, Manchester United’s Eric Cantona responded to an abusive Crystal Palace supporter by throwing himself feet first into the crowd and landing a few well-placed punches.

The moment of madness ended up with the Frenchman spending three-and-a-half hours in a jail cell, missing eight months of football and doing 120 hours of community service. In the end, Cantona was unrepentant, saying he wished he had hit the fan harder. 

10) SELES STABBED
During a tournament in Hamburg in 1993, Monica Seles, who was the top ranked women’s tennis player at the time, was knifed to the back by a crazed spectator while she played a match against Magdelena Maleeva.

Seles was rushed to hospital with a wound half an inch deep in her upper back and although she did recover, the injury set her well back in her career. The perpetrator told police he did it to help Germany’s Steffi Graf regain her top ranking in women’s tennis.

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