Radja Nainggolan has told ESPN FC that Inter Milan can follow the example of his old club Roma and mount a challenge for the Champions League.
Nainggolan will be at the heart of an Inter team needing a point at Tottenham on Wednesday to book a place in the round of 16.
Inter have won nine of the 11 games in which he has played this season, losing three of the five he has missed.
But the Belgium international said that was “coincidental” as he targeted defying those who said Inter had no chance of progressing from a group that also includes Barcelona.
“It’s not just about me — there are a lot of players here with this character, who believe in what they want to do, and this is a good sign,” he said.
“The team play well regardless. I can bring my own type of charisma, which is part of me, but these statistics are not important.
“I’m not a player who can make a difference by myself — I’m a component in a squad that can do harm together, working as a team.
“Definitely it’s hard when you get drawn against clubs like these, but I think it’s harder for them to draw Inter from the fourth seeding pot, or [last year for Chelsea and Atletico] to draw Roma from the third pot.
“I think all of these big clubs wanted to avoid us, and we’re just giving it a go because when you’re drawn in such a difficult group you play these games in, let’s say, a more relaxed manner because you’ve got nothing to lose on paper.
“It’s a bit like what happened last year with Roma — we’ve just got to believe, then it’s all down to us. It was a great draw for the personal experiences, but if you see the calibre of these sides I don’t think it was really the draw you want.
“But in the end, we’ve put ourselves in a strong position and this proves we can hold our own with them.”
Nainggolan warned that it would not be easy for Inter to get the point they need at Wembley, saying Spurs — who they beat 2-1 at the San Siro — were “a great side.”
“We’ll go there to play our game because you’ve always got to take your own strengths into games like these,” he added. “We’re in a good position in the group so it is all down to us.
“At Roma we had a really good side and Inter are equally strong, but when you’re in a group where people are saying: ‘You won’t get through’ and then you do get through, you face the next games like finals, over two legs — two knockout games — and you’ve got nothing to lose because maybe you didn’t expect to get through.
“Last year with Roma, we lost 4-1 at Barcelona and then we won 3-0 at home which maybe nobody expected. But we had so much motivation to go through, and almost the same thing happened with Liverpool [in the semifinals]. This is football.
“It was a great experience with a great, strong group of lads, and I am seeing these same things here.
“I think that we’ve done really well with Inter so far and we’re showing that we deserve to go through, but there are two games left and we need to keep working the way we have done so far.”