Gareth Bale won’t be present when Tottenham Hotspur visit the Bernabeu, in the Champions League, but there will be another reunion. Former Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric will face his old club for the first time (barring the 2015 preseason friendly) since he was sold to Madrid in 2012.
Modric has opened up about his time at Spurs in an interview on UEFA.com, and he said some pretty nice things about his time in north London, saying that he’s impressed with how Spurs have improved since he was creating hockey assists with the ball on a string at his feet in Harry Redknapp’s midfields.
“Tottenham was my first international club. I spent four glorious years there and the fans were brilliant with me. I only have good memories. It's a shame it won't be at White Hart Lane but Wembley is also a fantastic stadium and playing there is a real honour. Tottenham have really strengthened as a club. They have invested heavily, they have a new training ground and stadium and become a team ready to compete for the Premier League title. They deserve it because of their tradition and fans. I wish them all the best, but not in the two games they play against us.”
Modric also answered why he left Tottenham in the first place, and he hinted that he wanted the move in order to win things, described as that usual football-speak phrase “new challenges.”
“After four seasons with Tottenham, where I had grown as much as possible, I needed new challenges for the sake of improving. Real Madrid were the ideal club for me, and when I knew they were interested, I couldn't think about anything else. Signing for this club helped me move up to the next level. I am playing the best football of my career and feel better every day. Playing in the Santiago Bernabéu is special. It is the best stadium I have played in and I relish each moment. I hope that I have many more years to look forward to.”
I have a hard time blaming players, especially top ones, for wanting to leave for clubs like Madrid in order to improve their game. Modric’s comments about Madrid kind of glosses over how he really wanted a move to Chelsea the previous season, but whatever. I get it. He’s one of the best midfielders in the world and he has proved that time and time again at the highest level at Madrid.
That said, there’s a reason why a lot of Tottenham fans have no interest in ever welcoming Luka back into the fold. To them, he used Spurs as a stepping stone and used the protracted transfer sagas with Chelsea and Madrid to destroy a lot of the goodwill that he had cultivated with the Spurs fanbase. I’m not one of those fans. I’ve always loved Luka and would welcome Old Man Modric back in a heartbeat.
That good will all kind of goes out the window on Tuesday, of course. It may not be likely, but I’d love to see Spurs get a result in Madrid tomorrow night at Modric’s expense. The thing I’m most sad about, though, is that we won’t get a chance to see this happen again tomorrow night.