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World Soccer: Slaven Bilic is in no doubt that you will be Croatia’s key player at Euro 2012 and a star of the tournament. How will that affect your future?

Luka Modric: I will decide about my future after the Euros. More precisely, I will make my decision where to continue with my career. I’m ready for big tests. I want to prove, together with the help of my team-mates, that Croatia has the potential to reach the quarter-finals, and then we’ll see.

Before you signed for Tottenham Hotspur your career was not an easy one. How have you survived the ups and downs?

All the difficulties and troubles that have followed me don’t matter now. Ever since I came to London to play in the Premier League, everything looks like a beautiful dream. Regardless of that, I am still motivated, still have ambitions. Not only was I raised that way, my environment makes me feel that way and encourages my desire to prove more. Right now I’m in my best years to play football. I just hope that good health will follow me so I can thrive.

How big an achievement was qualifying for Euro 2012?

The qualification campaign was very hard for us all. Yet in Croatia it seemed like everyone had got used to us qualifying for the finals of the major championships. And our run of appearances since 1996, with two exceptions [Euro 2000 and the 2010 World Cup], really is amazing. The Croatian domestic league is weak and it’s a wonder that we even have a team that has been among the top 10 or 12 in the world for some years now.

Bilic has come under much criticism. How has that affected you?

Bilic’s contribution to the team is huge and each one of us should be grateful to him that we are there. He’s the one that helped us, he gave us opportunities to advance our careers. And I’ll be sincerely sorry if the announcements happen to be true, if the boss really does leave after the Euros. These kind of things are not good for the atmosphere in the team before the start of the Euros, but regardless of all that I am confident we will give our best. We are all motivated to succeed.

You’re in a tough group with Spain and Italy…

Actually we’ll have our most difficult time, in the psychological sense, at the start, against a tough Irish team. I know what awaits us there, Bilic also knows it well. It’s imperative to win that game. If we do, things are suddenly different. I am a realistic man, I also know that in football the favourites do not always win. That means our match against Ireland is crucial. After that we will be looking for
a place in the quarter-finals.

Last summer there was talk about you leaving Tottenham… 

The only thing that could encourage me to leave is my ambition, not money. If the money was the reason then I would’ve already accepted the offer of chairman [Daniel] Levy. I was hoping this season we would win a trophy, the FA Cup, but we lost to Chelsea. Some people blamed me but I’ve never shirked my responsibilities. However, the pressure is great and I feel it especially when I play for the national team. In the friendly against Sweden, in Zagreb, for the first time I experienced what it’s like to be whistled at. It bothered me. Even when
I don’t play well I fight, I never hold back. So when a player is struggling, especially when he’s trying his hardest for the team, it is not nice to hear the boos. We lost that game 3-1. We all knew we played poorly but it happens.

How do you see Euro 2012?

Spain are favourities, that’s logical, although the rivalry of the Barcelona and Real Madrid players may have an effect on them. Germany and Holland will be up there. I hope we can be dark horses, and another surprise team might be Denmark. Most importantly, I expect the competition to be open. I’m sure we will see very attractive football.

Interview by Zdravko Reic

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