Goodbye Luka. Remember The Good Times

Luka, goodbye and good luck. I’ll only remember the good times, and they were rich, plentiful and sweet.

The finest midfielder to wear the shirt since Gascoigne, on his day he made the team hum with energy and purpose. He was the link between defence and attack, taking the ball from the toes of the back four and looking up, always looking up. In his mind’s eye he saw not what was happening but what could happen. Pass and move, the ball had barely left his foot before he was gone into space, finding some where before there was none. Available and ready, pass and move.

Loutish uncouth opponents clattered in, lured by the thin, bony frame,but they arrived and he was gone, riding the challenges and away. Pass and move. The Tottenham way. This was his home. Many looked his way, we made eye contact and began a 4 year love affair that sadly ended as all affairs do but the ecstatic pleasure will last until I’m old and grey.

When he played, Tottenham played. He dictated the shape and pace of the whole game. He oiled the cogs and powered the engine. He demanded attention so his team-mates had more time and space. They made a run, knowing Luka would find them. Too often he paused at the edge of the box, instinct compelling him to roll the ball into channels, only to find others on a different wavelength. But when it worked, Spurs sang a song of joy. Flowing, easy movement as natural as breathing yet breathtaking given the ferocious pace and physicality of the modern game. Too late now but watch him from pitch level. We spectators merely have to sit, not worry about a bouncing ball or stalking defenders, but he sees gaps where you see massed ranks of defenders, he sees opportunities where you see only threats.

Every great player has their trademark, something which makes them stand out from the rest. Luka could pass short into the channels or take half a team out of the match with a sweeping diagonal stretching 50 yards. He buzzed around the edge of the box or drove us onwards  from deep. But I will always fondly recall the way he took a ball under pressure, often his own half and with his back to the onrushing tacklers, and with a dip of the shoulder send them one way as he went the other into clean, fresh air.

For many the undignified end to his time at Spurs has tarnished his reputation. Whilst I have no wish to either ignore his refusal to play or make excuses for him, frankly it didn’t much matter. Sorely peeved after his move to Chelsea was vetoed last season, he knuckled down and gave his best. This summer, he was always going to leave and everyone knew it. Pointless to play him for just 2 games if we are rebuilding the team, although goodness knows we missed his creativity. If he went on strike as is rumoured, we probably saved a few bob on his salary. We can’t begrudge him a move to one of the two most famous and illustrious club sides in the world, and he had the good grace to shun Chelsea and United.

Even so, this isn’t the way to remember him. Players come and go, only we the fans are constant, lasting, loyal. And what do we have if we don’t have good memories, golden exuberance that balances out the drudgery and pain. That’s what supporting a club is all about, the precious moments that linger for a lifetime. Ask yourself this – when you tell your wide-eyed children or grandchildren about this wonderful game,  this great club and its heroes, what story will you spin? Majestic players who left the crowd spellbound, or contract negotiations?

Some say Luka Modric is not all that. Over-rated. Ineffective. Never mind show me your medals, show me your stats. Where are the goals? Where are the assists?  He should have scored more, of course he should, a man with his sublime touch couldn’t connect cleanly, I can’t understand that. But he played deep, he made the pass to the man who made the pass yet that’s discounted. He lifted the side when times were rough. Miserable and wretched stats, the curse of the modern game where there’s no need to make up your own mind, to have an opinion, to even watch the match, just count.

Let’s therefore expunge the memory of the Tottenham greats. Let’s rid ourselves of the others who don’t match these standards, starting with another midfielder who only played in 20 minutes spells, who couldn’t kick a dead ball for toffee, who scored only 16 times in over 220 appearances, who tired as the game went on. Ossie Ardiles, a peerless maestro who ran the game in those 20 minute spells and picked up a World Cup winners medal along the way.

With Ossie as with Luka, remember them for what did rather than what they did not. They conjured magnificent creations of joy and wonder on the pitch. Luka, thanks for memories. I’m glad my children could see in their lifetime a midfield player as good as you. They understand. I wish I could have seen you, for one last time, not to change your mind but just to say, I miss you. Good luck, goodbye.

22 thoughts on “Goodbye Luka. Remember The Good Times

  1. It was an absolute pleasure watching him play. It’s a shame he couldn’t score a few more goals because goodness knows he had enough opportunities. Nevertheless, a joy to watch when threading through balls with the outside of his foot. He’ll do well at Real.

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  2. Marvellous piece Alan, thanks.
    It was uncanny really how similar Luca was to Ossie. Both of them poetry in motion, perfect balance and economy of movement. I could have pictured both of them as ballet dancers! Just a shame we couldn’t see Luca lift some silverware in the lillywhite shirt.

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  3. I knew you’d be the man to write a proper “au revoir” for Luka. So many fans (of all clubs) turn against players who want to move on, seeming (choosing?) not to realise that it’s usually only the supporters who truly love a club. When a player moves on, it shouldn’t be taken as a personal insult, yet many people are treating Luka as if he jilted them at the altar. We had 4 years of watching a sublime talent, and I for one am grateful for those years. Yes I would have liked him to stay for the rest of his career, but it was never going to happen. Whatever some may like to think, there is a huge gulf between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur. You cannot begrudge a top talent the chance to play for the biggest club in the world. Goodbye, good luck, and thankyou Luka. And thankyou Alan.

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  4. I always thought of him as the “mortar between the bricks”. He joined everything up together through midfield to the final third. He was always available as an outlet and rarely wasted the ball. I’ll certainly remember his great play but I’ll also remember the way he engineered his move which was both distasteful and undignified. Probably no more or less than any other professional footballer of today. They can kiss the badge all they like and be adored by the fans but they are just commodities now. The club they play for are just the current employer until a bigger better offer comes along and then it’s another badge they’ll be kissing. I do think you;re letting him off the hook a bit and saying that he had the good grace to shun Chelsea is a bit off the mark since that was the club he was desperate to join last year. He would have been wearing the blue shirt in a heartbeat had Levy let him go. He would have gone there this year too except that ‘bigger boys’ showed up.
    I’m not for forming a vigilante group to string him up from the cockerel’s spur but neither am I misty eyed with gratitude.

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  5. great article. Pleasure to watch luca. Hopefully, all these comments should be read by levy. Then he would eventually sign someone and get a replacement in.

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  6. A great player and one of the best I have seen in over 50 years of supporting “The Spurs”. His speed, technique and balance coupled with an eye for the perfect pass never ceased to amaze me. Just seems a shame that he felt it neccessary to leave us to go elsewhere to attempt to win some silverware just when I feel that we might be able to make the jump from valiant triers to consistant challengers.

    Good luck Modders and thanks for the memories

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  7. It’s a lovely tribute to him as a footballer, Alan. It was a joy to watch him play. I hope in time to be able to remember him like that. I suspect however that I will always remember him like two other members of the Spurs Hall of Shame, Campbell and Berbatov i.e. ‘great player but an excuse for a man’.
    Players move on for financial and career reasons. I understand that but they can do so with grace and not total disrespect for the club that put them in the shop window. I don’t blame players for wanting more money and chances to win trophies but when it is just being achieved through financial recklessness, it is entirely wrong to trash clubs trying to balance the books as ‘lacking ambition’ or claiming that players are some sort of hostage.
    I’m grateful he’s gone to Real Madrid but the fact he didn’t end up at Chelsea or Man Utd was probably money talking rather than some benevolent gesture. We can now at least admire his artistry and not just glare at his shirt. I suspect Bale may follow him at some point though I hope his move will be done with a little more dignity.
    If I had children, I would want to be able to tell them that truly great players not only play great football but have respect for the club they play for. I’d spend my time telling them about players that gave it their all for Spurs like Ledley King. But if they should ask, I’ll tell them about Modric and his ability to drop his shoulder, turn in the opposite direction, create a few yards of space and play a perfect ball out to Lennon or Bale. And then I’ll probably finish off with ‘great player but…’ and change the subject.

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  8. All i will remember is for him wanting Chelsea©2003 last year and for fucking up the beginning of two seasons.
    Yes he is a class player but cant believe none of you mentioned him refusing to play for us and all his pathetic agents nonsense in the last few months. Good riddance to him.

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  9. It may not be rational but his going to Spain rather than Chelsea has allowed me to think the thoughts so eloquently and insightfully expressed in Alan’s piece rather dwell on the lack of what Peter Domican rightly calls a lack of grace and disrespect for Spurs.

    A brilliant player and I genuinely hope it works out for him at Real. I think he’s good enough to be at a side that can win the CL rather than just be pleased to be in it and have no complaint with him wanting to go at this stage. Not as good as Ardiles though maybe he’ll go up that extra level in Madrid.

    While all the world rightly raved about Bale he was the main man for us.

    We have received good money for him, too and had another good year out of him, so fair’s fair.

    Good luck Luka and Spurs.

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  10. Loved watching him and I shall miss his craft with a heavy heart. I’m pleased he’s left for Real, as he deserves to play with a team that has a history and is noted for good football. Perhaps i wouldn’t have been so gracious last year-but then again I knew when Levy said ‘ a Big club-at the right price’ Chelsea were out of the equation.
    I’m getting a little irritated by the speculation about finding a replacement in the Modric mould, as there are none. I’d have also thought by bringing in a new, young manager, that he’d have his own idea’s and thoughts, and would buy a player that would reflect them-as opposed to replicating a previous manager, who many said had none?

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  11. Well, yes he was, more to the point can the fans please stop acting like spoilt children, I want more and I want it now!! Otherwise I will Boo and Boo and Boo. We are not gooners!!

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