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Luka Modric has regrets about how he left Tottenham Hotspur

The former Tottenham midfielder is sorry for the way things went down during his transfer to Madrid in 2012.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Luka Modric is apparently feeling retrospective as his career winds down at Real Madrid. As Pardeep Cattry noted in this morning’s Hoddle of Coffee, the Croatian midfield wizard was profiled in the upcoming March issue of FourFourTwo magazine, and in the midst of a large interview, he had some things to say about Tottenham Hotspur, the club that gave him a chance in the Premier League and helped him rocket to international stardom.

Modric was a key player for Spurs while he was there, but his tenure in north London ended inharmoniously. In 2011 Modric pushed hard for a transfer to Chelsea after the Blues repeatedly bid for him, but Spurs refused to sell to a league rival. Modric even went as far as to accuse Spurs chairman of breaking a “gentleman’s agreement” and the relationship between Luka and the club became increasingly caustic. Modric was eventually sold to Real Madrid in 2012 for £30m, a huge fee in those days.

In his interview, however, Modric expressed regret at the way that he left the club and how it left a bad taste in the mouths of the club and its supporters.

“My one regret is that I didn’t win a trophy with Tottenham, despite us being a strong team who played good, attractive football. I’m sorry for the way I left. I wish we had parted in a nicer way. I hope fans understand that I followed my dreams.”

I don’t want to be too hard on Luka, because let’s be honest: he was too good for Tottenham Hotspur at the time he left. Yes, Spurs were coming off of a Champions League quarterfinal finish, were pushing for top four again, and were clearly a club on the rise in no small part because of his play. But at the end of the day Spurs still weren’t a club that really could prevent its best players away from the biggest clubs in Europe when they came calling. I get that. He went to Real Madrid and became one of the best central midfielders in Europe. He earned that, and Spurs got a good price for him in the end, even if they didn’t want to sell.

On the other hand, saying that he left Tottenham to “follow his dreams” conveniently forgets the stink that he made while he was trying to force a move to Chelsea the season prior. Was a move to Chelsea also “following his dreams?” I can certainly understand why comments like these would rankle certain segments of Tottenham fans, especially when he appeared extremely keen to use Spurs as a stepping stone to bigger things.

Still, in hindsight Modric does appear to have warm feelings for his time at White Hart Lane.

“My emotions when I think about the time I spent at Spurs are always really positive. Tottenham is the club that first gave me my opportunity to play in one of the strongest leagues in the world.

“I had a fantastic relationship with the people at the club, and also the fans. The whole atmosphere in and around the club at that time was brilliant, and our results were mostly very good. We played in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, against Real Madrid, and in a League Cup final too.

“Do I still follow their results? Yes, when I have time. I always enjoy watching Tottenham’s games and I really like what the club has become over the last few seasons.

“They play the kind of enjoyable and attacking football that I like to see, and I definitely think Spurs could win the Premier League title in the near future – they’ve got excellent players.”

Part of me wonders if these comments aren’t perhaps Modric trying to open a door a crack. He’s 32 years old now, at the point where his usefulness to a club like Madrid may start to wane. It’s not inconceivable that Modric might want to try and engineer a landing at a club like Spurs that still plays in the Champions League and at a high level and could use a player with his experience and ability for a few seasons before he hangs up his boots.

That’s pretty conspiracy-theorish, of course. Tottenham probably couldn’t afford anything close to his current wages, even with the new stadium revenue. There’s also some question as to whether Spurs fans would welcome Luka back with open arms. I’d take Old Man Modric back in a heartbeat — even in his 30s and with his pace starting to drop he’s still a world-class passer — but not everyone would.

The full March issue of FourFourTwo, which also includes a profile on Son Heung-Min (complete with photo of him with a bobble-head doll of himself) is available for purchase now.