Luka Modric has shown his class by FaceTiming a 6-year-old Ukrainian boy who lost both his parents in the Russian invasion.
Ilya Kostushevych, a huge Shakhtar Donetsk fan, is living with the most unimaginable pain after both his mother and father were killed in the Russian attacks on the city of Maripol, where he lived with his family.
The tragic events have left him orphaned but the youngster, brave as ever, is still smiling.
And he was treated to a wonderful surprise this week. Shakhtar legend Darijo Srna, now working as the club’s director of football, spent time with Ilya.
He arranged for a phone call from his Croatian compatriot Luka Modric, one of the best midfielders in world football and a Ballon d’Or win in 2018.
The Real Madrid star, fresh from winning yet another Champions League, chatted with the boy and the video uploaded online is incredibly wholesome.
Ilya has been staying with Volodymyr and Maria Bespaliy, a Ukrainian couple who fled Slovyansk.
They have offered to adopt him as their son after creating a special bond.
“I explained to him that there is a war going on, a cruel war,” Maria told rferl.org.
“Unfortunately things like that happen. I said, ‘You are not alone, we have taken you and we will take care of you. We will love you and we’ll be your family if you want. We’ll be your mum and dad. Your mother and father are in heaven. They look down on you and are happy.”
Modric can relate to Ilya’s story. When he was at the very same age, his grandfather, along with six other civilians, was shot by Serb rebels on his doorstep.
With their house burned down, the family had to move into the Kolovare Hotel in Zadar and became refugees.
But the war was still going on there and a young Modric grew up hearing grenades in the warzone.
“War never brings anything good to anyone,” Modric told The Guardian.
“I wrote that at that moment. After it, I don’t have any hate towards anyone. And that’s it. What happened, happened. It is what it is; it is a pity that he is not with us. Things that aren’t nice happen in war. I don’t have hate or, I don’t know, [other feelings] towards anyone. It is part of life I had to go through.
“These things can make you tougher or can break you. I choose the other way; I choose to become tougher, to create my character.”