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Baxter hoping Khune brings the magic

South Africa
By ESPN Staff

Corluka content to leave City riches for Spurs

Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka insists he has no regrets about leaving Manchester City just hours before billionaire new owners took over the club.

Corluka could have been lining up alongside £32.4million Brazilian striker Robinho today as Manchester City opened an extraordinary new era against Chelsea.

The new City owners from Abu Dhabi are richer than Stamford Bridge oligarch Roman Abramovich and claim to be targeting the biggest names in world football, the likes of Kaka, Cesc Fabregas and even Cristiano Ronaldo from across Manchester.

But Corluka, who completed an £8.5million deadline-day transfer to Spurs on the morning of the City takeover, is convinced he made the right decision.

The 22-year-old Croatian believes the influence of new manager Juande Ramos, and the strong competition for places at White Hart Lane, will make him a better player.

''The arrival of the new owners would not have made any difference to me. I wanted to join Tottenham,'' said Corluka.

''I wish Manchester City all the best this season, they were really good to me, but all I think about now is Tottenham. This is a big club and I do not regret anything.

''I learned a lot from Sven-Goran Eriksson. He is a really good manager and one of the best men I have met. Mark Hughes is also a very good manager and I think he will do very well with City.

''But I am sure I will learn a lot from Juande. In life you want to be better every day and I think with Juande I will be.

''We have a very good squad. Not just in sport but in every job in life, competition makes you better. You need to be 100% every day. I like that.''

Corluka's tough background has helped forge that determined attitude and means he approaches life without room for regret.

Born in Bosnia, Corluka was just six when the outbreak of the Balkan war forced his family to flee to Zagreb.

''We ran away from the Serbs. They burned our houses and everything. But what can we do now? It was not the worst thing that happened - lots of people lost their families,'' said Corluka.

''We are a young country and we must step forward. The people now appreciate the small things. I am glad that I am now here and that I can represent my country.''

Corluka joined Dinamo Zagreb as an eight-year-old and stayed at his club for over a decade, winning successive titles in 2006 and 2007 before moving to Manchester City.

Corluka has won 24 caps for Croatia and is in line to make his Spurs debut against Aston Villa on Monday night, less than a week after playing in the 4-1 defeat by England in Zagreb.

''When the national team plays the people can't sleep the night before because they can't wait. Before independence the football team played against the USA and that was like a symbol of Croatia,'' said Corluka.

''Wednesday was a difficult time for me and Croatia. We have not lost everything. We are at the start of qualifying and we still have time to change things.

''I am trying to forget that and move on. We are professionals. We can't bring that with us to the club. We have to just think about Monday.

Corluka may have arrived at White Hart Lane on transfer deadline day but international commitments meant he only pulled on a Spurs training shirt for the first time on Friday.

Spurs' England contingent were kind to him.

''Jermaine Jenas has been very discreet,'' Corluka smiled.

''I think if I had won 4-1 I would have been making a couple of jokes!''

But life does not get much easier. When Corluka faced Villa with Manchester City on the opening day of the season Gabriel Agbonlahor scored a hat-trick.

He said: ''Villa are a really good team. It will be difficult but we need to win that game. I am not thinking about anything else.''

Tottenham lost their opening two games of the season, to Middlesbrough and Sunderland, but secured a confidence-boosting draw at Stamford Bridge before the international window.

Corluka's fellow deadline-day arrival Roman Pavlyuchenko, signed as a direct replacement for Dimitar Berbatov, is also set to make his debut on Monday.


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