How is the Champions League different to the Premier League?
It is different. You definitely can’t compare the two, the Premier League and the Champions League. The Champions League is, in my opinion, the best football club competition in the world, with many top clubs from other countries, and great excitement when playing against top clubs. The English [Premier] league is much tougher, everything goes faster, while in the Champions League, the emphasis is on technique – and I think that’s one of the differences.
With the Croatian national team you have a free role, while with Spurs you have some more defensive responsibility. Do you enjoy having more defensive responsibility?
Well, I think that my role in the national team and my current role at Tottenham are very similar. I think I have equally defensive tasks, both in the national team and here – and that is the position in which I can give the most, though I am some way from the goal, but that’s the position that suits me, and I am satisfied with it.
When you were a boy, who was your favourite player?
My favourite player was Zvonimir Boban. He was my idol when I was a kid. I liked his playing style. He was really an extraordinary player, he spent his entire career at a great club like Milan, and his style of play is one that I like the most, and certainly his behaviour on the field, he was captain of the national team.
In the Champions League, who has been your toughest opponent on the pitch?
Well I can’t say I’ve had any especially tough opponent, I really cannot name a player that was really hard to play against, at least for now – we’ll see what the future will bring.
If you were in the Champions League final, in a penalty shootout, and you had to take one, would you go for power or placement?
It’s hard to say. I hope I would hit the ball really hard if I had the chance, but I would certainly place the ball, aim. I would choose one side, and I would hit it there. I certainly wouldn’t just hit it hard and wait to see where it ended up.
You are a very creative and tough player. Is there anything you think you can still work on and improve in your game?
Well, I think that what I can improve in my game is certainly shooting on goal. I think that is a part of my play that is missing, and I am working on it, and I hope I will improve it in the future.
What kind of impact has Rafael van der Vaart had since arriving?
Yes, his arrival gave us motivation, he proved to be a really great player, and since he arrived we have started playing really well. I mean, we were playing well before he arrived, but he brought new experience from Real Madrid. He has played at great clubs, and he has certainly helped us with his experience. He has scored many goals for us this season, and has proven to be one of the more important players.
In the Champions League, opponents are watching van der Vaart and Gareth Bale. Does that create more space for you?
Well, other players definitely have to use that, because there is that “free space”, since all eyes are directed toward the two of them. At some moments they are closely watched and followed, and that definitely leaves more space for other players. Our aim is to use that as much as we can.
Is it fun training every day with Gareth Bale?
Well, yes, Gareth Bale is an extraordinary player. He has shown what he can do throughout this season, and he’s a normal guy, which is the most important thing. Maybe he’s even a bit shy. He’s really a great guy, and it’s great training with him, as with any team-mate.
Spurs finished top of a very tough Champions League group. What is Harry Redknapp’s secret?
Well he gave us freedom to play. Of course, there are some demands that we have to meet, but in attack he gave us freedom so we can show what we can do on the pitch, and show our skills. That is definitely a big plus for us.
What kind of influence does William Gallas have?
Well, William is also a great player, he has played at great clubs, and his experience definitely helps at some moments, when it is hard; his suggestions definitely help when we are on the pitch, and his experience has really helped us out.
In the Premier League players have less time on the ball. Does that make you a stronger player, what do you think?
I think that since I came to the Premier League I have made progress in that area, because the game in the Premier League is really fast, and demands quick passes, so that has definitely helped me improve my play.
How do you relax, do you have favourite films or music?
Well, I don’t have any films that I can say are my favourite, maybe ‘Gladiator’ is my favourite movie but I certainly relax watching movies at home – along with my son. And I listen to our Croatian music.
What do you like about living and working in London?
Well, generally, living in London is amazing. There’s a lot to see, and it’s really nice. The city is great so you can never get bored.
How did Tottenham develop though the group stage?
Well, I think we made really big progress, especially because it was the first time that we had played in the Champions League. Those matches against Inter and the other clubs in the group will be a big help in the remainder of the competition.
What were your emotions after the game against Inter at White Hart Lane?
The feeling is amazing, to beat the champions of Europe is not an easy thing to do. But we showed our quality in that game, and that we can deal with any opponent, especially when we are playing at home, and the feeling was really great.
How much of Milan have you seen this season, and what do you know about their style?
Well, honestly, I haven’t followed them too much, but I have kept my eye on them, their results. Of course, they are on top in Italy, they are in great shape, they have a lot of extraordinary players, who are in a really good shape, including above all Ibrahimovic, and Robinho, Pato. They are the greatest danger in attack. It won’t be easy, but we believe in our quality, and I believe we can stand up to them in the best possible way, and even go through.
What’s special about European nights at White Hart Lane?
Well, everything is really great, especially the atmosphere during the game with Inter, which I think has been one of the greatest since I have been here. Everybody is excited, and everybody looks forward to those Champions League matches, so the feeling is great.