Real Madrid's Luka Modric impressed by Tottenham Hotspur progress
Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has said leaving Tottenham in 2012 was a step he had to take as he prepares for a Champions League reunion with his old club on Tuesday.
Madrid face Spurs at the Bernabeu and Modric, who played 127 Premier League games for the Londoners between 2008 and 2012, said he was impressed with the progress they had made.
The Croatia international captain said in an interview with UEFA: "Tottenham was my first international club.
"I spent four glorious years there and the fans were brilliant with me. I only have good memories.
"Tottenham have really strengthened as a club. They have invested heavily, they have a new training ground and stadium, and they have become a team ready to compete for the Premier League title.
"I wish them all the best, but not in the two games they play against us."
Modric said it was "a shame" that the second Champions League group meeting between the sides next month would not be at the now-demolished White Hart Lane, but added: "Wembley is also a fantastic stadium, and playing there is a real honour."
He said he had left Spurs after going as far as he could at the club and knew that a switch to the Bernabeu would be "ideal."
"After four seasons with Tottenham, where I had grown as much as possible, I needed new challenges for the sake of improving," he added.
"Real Madrid were the ideal club for me and, when I knew they were interested, I couldn't think about anything else.
"Signing for this club helped me move up to the next level. I am playing the best football of my career and feel better every day."
Modric said it was "special" to have won the Champions Leagues with Madrid three times in the last four seasons, adding: "Playing at Real Madrid is something special in itself, but winning trophies with Real Madrid is even more thrilling.
"We've won more Champions Leagues than anyone. We've won practically everything there is to win recently, and we need to stay strong in order to win more Champions League titles."
He put the club's recent success down to the impact of coach Zinedine Zidane, saying he "brings calm and stability and he has created a really positive atmosphere."
He said: "He makes sure all of the players feel important and valued. That is a hard thing to achieve at this kind of club, but he has managed it.
"His character has played an important role and we all value him. He brings us all together and you can see that he has kept hold of a lot of aspects that made him a great player."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan