LONDON - Tottenham Hotspur look almost certain to be knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid on Wednesday but Harry Redknapp's team will not break up, midfield playmaker Luka Modric said on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Croatian accepts that Spurs need a miracle to overturn their 4-0 first leg defeat in Madrid to reach the semi-finals, but told a pre-match news conference at White Hart Lane that Spurs can come back even stronger next season.
"There is a big belief around the dressing room that we can produce a miracle, but to be honest that is going to be hard because they are a team full of great players," Modric, who will be a target for Europe's big guns if Tottenham are not in the Champions League next season, told reporters.
"But even if we don't go through, we want to enjoy the game, and this team has a bright future.
"I don't think we are going to break up, the players have long contracts and we are really enjoying playing here.
"We have learnt a lot this season and I think we can do even better if we get back into the Champions League next season because we have improved."
Modric, whose favourite film is Gladiator, said the team has shown something of a gladitorial fighting spirit this season in which he has played a key role.
"I think we have won people's respect. I think we are a great team, but can still learn a lot from this year," he said.
They have enjoyed a free-scoring roller-coaster ride in their debut season in the competition, the first time they have been back among Europe's elite since they played in the old European Cup almost half a century ago.
"We have shown we can compete with the top teams like AC Milan and Inter Milan and I think we deserve to be recognised as one of the big clubs in Europe," Modric said.
"We are coming and have a chance to be one of the best teams if we stay together, which I think we will."
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said his team should take heart from London rivals Fulham's Europa Cup defeat of Juventus last season. "You never know in football," he said.
"I was at Fulham's game with Juventus last season when Fulham lost the first leg 3-1 then went a goal down in two minutes in the second leg and came back to win 4-1 and go through."
However, the odds are stacked against his side, with no team ever having overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit in European competition.
"No... I haven't told them that," Redknapp joked. "They might call me up and say 'what is the use of me coming, can I go shopping?'"comments