"We weren't sure about him" – Alan Hutton recalls Luka Modric’s less than impressive start at Tottenham

Luka Modric
(Image credit: Getty)

Luka Modric has long been considered one of the world’s best players. The deep-lying playmaker has won four Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, as well as a Ballon d’Or after leading Croatia to the World Cup Final in 2018.

Even over the past summer, at the age of 34, the midfielder dazzled for his nation at Euro 2020, scoring a stunning winner against Scotland in the group stages. Yet Modric wasn’t always quite so highly rated. In fact, after moving to Tottenham from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008, his new teammates wondered if he’d make the grade in English football. 

“Modric took a good while to settle in England,” explains Alan Hutton, who made 66 appearances for Spurs between 2008 and 2011. “He came in for about £16m, which was quite a lot of money for a player from the Croatian league. He didn’t look particularly big, strong or fast and he struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the English game.

“In the first few weeks, a few of the boys were saying ‘I’m not sure about this guy’," Hutton, speaking in an interview via Coffee Friend, continues. "But, slowly, he started to settle and everything changed. He got his first season out of the way and then he started to look the part. Soon we were watching him in games and in training and thinking ‘Wow, what a world class player!' He could control games and do things with a ball nobody else could. 

Modric became a fan favourite at Spurs before departing for Real Madrid in 2012. He is considered one of the North London clubs best players of the Premier League era. However there was another player in the Spurs squad who impressed Hutton even more than Modric. “Gareth Bale was a standout,” he tells FFT. “He was a young boy, only about 18 when he signed, but you could tell then he could be a superstar.

“I don't think I realized just how good the squad were at the time. Growing up and even as a young player, my focus was always Scotland. I didn't really watch too much English football. Then I came down to Spurs and even the likes of Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas. All these guys, I was like 'Wow, this is good team!'”

This interview was in association with Coffee Friend, an international retailer for coffee and coffee machines.

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.