Luka Modric believes Real Madrid’s older players are still hungry for Champions League glory.
Croatia midfielder Modric, 35, has lifted the trophy four times with Madrid since he joined them in 2012 and is the eldest of seven players in their squad aged 30 or over.
Sergio Ramos (34), Karim Benzema (33), Marcelo (32), Toni Kroos (31), Nacho (31) and Eden Hazard (30) are the other Madrid players of a certain vintage.
Los Blancos did not make it beyond the last 16 in the previous two seasons after defeats to Ajax and Manchester City in 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively.
However, Madrid booked their place in the quarter-finals of this season’s competition with a 3-1 (4-1 on aggregate) victory over Atalanta on Tuesday.
Modric completed more passes (89) than any other player in the match and had more touches (109) too, underlining his influence remains strong.
“The important thing was to get through as we have not done it in two years,” Modric told Movistar.
“We have to go step by step and see where we can go, but we have shown that there is still a lot of hunger in this team and that they want to keep winning.
“I hope we can go far but it was a very important first step. It was a very demanding game, Atalanta is a very physical team, they push one by one across the pitch, they don’t stop.
“I think we have done well from the beginning and very happy to be in the quarter-finals.”
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 16, 2021
Modric provided an assist for Benzema to score the opening goal for Madrid, before a penalty from Ramos and Marco Asensio’s late strike wrapped up the win shortly after a Luis Muriel free-kick for the visitors.
Five of Modric’s last six assists in all competitions have been for Benzema and only in 2013-14 (three) has the Croatian managed more Champions League assists than his two this season – both of which came in this last-16 tie.
When asked how old he felt as a player Modric said “27” before playing down the significance of his advancing years.
He said: “I always say that you don’t have to look at the years, what the player does on the field is important, it doesn’t matter how old, or how old his passport is.
“My physique and with everything I have achieved here, I am still hungry to continue doing things well, I am working to achieve all this and I feel very good.”
Madrid captain Ramos agreed with Modric’s sentiments, adding: “In the end, when you have been taking care of yourself for so many years, when you sow you end up harvesting.
“We always try to give the highest level; people must value the performance. The objective was to get through with a good result.”
Only Roberto Carlos (16) has scored more Champions League goals than Ramos (15) among all defenders in the competition.
Nevertheless, the experienced centre-back said there was no update on a new contract with Madrid, his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.
Ramos added: “I cannot report anything, when there is something new I will be the one to say so.”