This is a new series that chronicles former Tottenham Hotspur players who have moved on from the club. Where are they playing now? How has their career gone since leaving White Hart Lane? Find out below!
Vedran Corluka transferred to Tottenham Hotspur on September 1st, 2008, deadline day of that summer transfer window, from Manchester City. Alongside Russian striker, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Corluka was part of a promising double swoop for the Juande Ramos-led Spurs side. With both Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane departing that summer to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively, the Croatian international was joining a team in transition. Purchased for £8.5m, certainly not an insignificant sum at the time, Corluka was set to bolster Spurs defense and join his self-proclaimed "best friend" and Croatian teammate Luka Modriç, who was signed earlier in the window.
By the age of twenty-two Corluka already had won 24 caps for the Croatian National Team and was a staple in Manchester City's 2007-2008 backline, appearing in 35 of 38 Premier League matches for the Citizens that year. Corluka or Charlie, as he was affectionately known, was projected to be the answer at right-back for Spurs for years to come. He also brought some versatility to the lineup. While Spurs were strong enough in the center back position at the time, Corluka was seen as an able replacement in that spot in a pinch. Young, strong, and towering at 6'4" tall, Charlie combined these imposing physical characteristics with a strong technical ability and a high tactical acumen. A 22-year old international with Premier League experience who was filling an area of need, well, the hefty price tag looked like a smart buy at the time.
Beloved by Spurs faithful, Corluka had a solid, if unspectacular, career at White Hart Lane. He was sturdy defensively, if he had cover, and was intelligent in his positioning, often funneling attackers into points on the pitch where the advantage was his. Of course, his athleticism failed him to a great degree. Big and strong, but slow as the day is long, it is clear that while his birth wasn't so far removed from the lands of Ancient Greece, his ancestry was certainly not of Hermaic descent. Yet this didn't stop him attacking. Overlapping runs were surely not a part of his repertoire, but he was sneaky good in supporting attacks, finding the right space, and whipping quality balls into the box.
Charlie's time in the limelight of North London lasted about two seasons. He was an integral member of the 2008-2009 team, appearing in 34 of 38 Premier League matches, and 41 times overall for a team that finished 8th in the Premier League and runners-up for the 2009 League Cup. In that specific Cup final, the second year in a row that Spurs traveled to Wembley, Corluka started, played 120 minutes, and was the only Tottenham player to bury their penalty kick in the shootout loss to Manchester United. The 2009-2010 season, a supremely memorable one for the club, saw Charlie play an important role in the side once again. He stepped onto the pitch 29 times in the Premier League and 36 times in all competitions, as Spurs finished fourth and qualified for their first Champions League bid in club history.
Corluka's third season saw his matches dwindle to just 15 in the Premier League and 24 overall (though he did start against AC Milan in our Champions League round of 16 triumphs). With just three Premier League cameos in the first half of the 2011-12 season, and speedy youngster Kyle Walker exploding onto the Tottenham scene, Charlie was loaned to Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen on January 31st, 2012, before joining Lokomotiv Moscow on a permanent deal that summer.
Life After Spurs
Corluka has found a wonderful steadiness to his post-Tottenham career. While he didn't shine in his loan at Leverkusen, he found a club in Lokomotiv Moscow where both his pedigree and style of play shine. Corluka has been a consistent first eleven player for Lokomotiv Moscow in his first three years with the club, while he captains the current side which sits third in the Russian Premier League. Lokomotiv have finished ninth, third, and seventh in the previous three campaigns and qualified for the 2014-15 Europa League, before falling in the play-in round to Cypriot side Apollon Limossol. Further, like Spurs, they qualified for the 2015-16 Europa League and won their group which included Sporting Clube de Portugal and Besiktas this past fall. They are set to face Fenerbaçe in the knockout rounds in February.
Living in a city like Moscow and captaining a respectable club like Lokomotiv seems a happy ending for Corluka. Slaven Bilic, Charlie's former Croatian National Team coach and current manager of West Ham United, was rumored to have interest in him over the summer, but nothing came to fruition. If Corluka keeps up his form, lower level Premier League clubs will likely continue their interest for the next year or two, but why bother really? Charlie is getting European football, living in a world class city, and is much appreciated by his current club. What is not to like about that? Hopefully our esteemed Croatian continues to find success, in Moscow or wherever, in the years ahead.