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English Premiership

Spurs look to Modric

LONDON, August 6 – Harry Redknapp believes Croatia playmaker Luka Modric's decision to commit his future to Tottenham will prove the springboard for another season to remember at White Hart Lane.The champagne corks had barely stopped popping after Tottenham’s successful bid to clinch fourth place in the Premier League, and with it qualification for the Champions League, when Modric started to be linked with a move to Manchester United or Chelsea.

Tottenham had already seen Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov poached by United in the past and the prospect of losing the team’s creative inspiration when the north London club were finally heading in the right direction was a nightmare for Redknapp.

Redknapp had already described Modric as his side’s one genuine world-class talent and he moved to quash the speculation by handing the Croatian a greatly improved six-year contract to match his talent.

"Modric could play in any team in the world in my opinion, he’s a fantastic footballer, top class," Redknapp said.

"He’s a little guy and people say he can’t play in central midfield but he’s played there in a two-man central midfield against teams that play with three men in there and he’s been absolutely top drawer."

When Redknapp arrived at Tottenham in 2008, Modric had just been banished to the substitutes’ bench as the tiny midfielder struggled to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League in his first season in England.

The former Dynamo Zagreb player had earned rave reviews for his performances for Croatia when they twice defeated England in Euro 2008 qualifying.

But, with Spurs in turmoil under Juande Ramos, Modric initially found it impossible to reproduce those eye-catching displays at his new club.

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Redknapp wasted no time working on Modric’s confidence and returned him to the starting line-up for his first match against Bolton.

A frenetic clash against a side renowned for their aggressive tactics may not have seemed the ideal moment to get Modric into the swing of life in England.

Yet, while some players would have gone missing in the hurly-burly of a midfield battle against Bolton’s bruisers, Modric was able to mix his sublime passing skills with a more prosaic approach that saw him diving into tackles with relish.

That proved the turning point in his Spurs career.

With Redknapp firmly in his corner, Modric quickly emerged as the pivotal figure in the team’s march away from the relegation zone.

Fast forward 18 months and Tottenham had much more than survival in mind as Redknapp’s team travelled to Manchester City looking for the victory that would guarantee a top-four finish.

With so much at stake, the match was played at a frenzied pace but Modric dictated the tempo in typically astute fashion, guiding his team to a decisive 1-0 victory.

Playing in the Champions League – assuming Spurs make it through their qualifying tie – will give Modric the stage his talent deserves and he is adamant there is more success to come.

"Tottenham gave me my chance in the Premier League and I want to go on to achieve great success here with them," Modric said.

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"There have been enquiries from other big clubs, but I have no interest in going anywhere.

"Last season’s top four finish was an indication of where we are as a club and I feel I can continue to improve and go on to achieve everything I want to at Spurs."

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