Modric: I hope it's second time lucky in Spurs' Euro qualifier
LUKA Modric admits that Tottenham's Champions League qualifier will be a make or break tie for the club as he eagerly awaits another shot at the big time. The 24-year-old midfielder, who signed a new six-year contract at Spurs last week...
By Ben Pearce
LUKA Modric admits that Tottenham's Champions League qualifier will be a make or break tie for the club as he eagerly awaits another shot at the big time.
The 24-year-old midfielder, who signed a new six-year contract at Spurs last week, was agonisingly close to the Champions League group stages in 2006, when his former club Dinamo Zagreb lost out to Arsenal in the final qualifying round.
And he confesses that he was overcome with emotion when Spurs sealed their top-four finish at Eastlands four weeks ago, leaving him within touching distance of Europe's elite competition for the second time.
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"I came off the pitch [at Manchester City] a couple of minutes before the end, and when I was on the bench everyone was so nervous, so excited. When the whistle finally went we all ran onto the pitch to celebrate together. We knew what it meant to everyone and wanted to be with our fans," said Modric.
"It was an unforgettable moment for every player - for the team, the squad, for everyone. I thought at the time 'this is a big thing for us'. If we qualify for the group stages of the Champions League I'm sure this club will go onto another level. This club deserves to play football at that level.
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"With the qualifiers, you live for those types of games. They are massive games and the expectations are unbelievable. You know it's the group stages of the Champions League if you win. It's great to compete in those types of matches, and to play in it regularly would be brilliant for the club. I can't wait.
"It was a fantastic season. We have a great squad, a lot of good players in every position - in fact two players vying for every position. We've needed that as well because the season in England is long - two cups and the Premier League, and now we'll hopefully have the group stages of the Champions League next season to think about as well."
Modric may be looking a long way ahead as he focuses on the next campaign, but that is understandable given that the Croatia international has missed out on the World Cup.
"It's such a shame not to be there. I'll probably watch it, some games," he said. "It's painful but we need to turn it around and prepare for Euro 2012 qualification. It would be a massive disappointment not to be there after this disaster. It's hard to accept but we need to live with it.
"Because of my team-mates I would like to see England win or at least go far in the tournament. It's the same with Wilson [Palacios] and Honduras and Seb [Bassong] and Benoit [Assou-Ekotto] with Cameroon. I'd love to see them all do well but I do think England have a good chance."
You can read the full interview with Modric in this month's edition of Hotspur magazine. Out now!