Karabatic: Never So Much Pressure BeforeArticle
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The French international backcourt player of Kiel has become top scorer of the 2006/07 Men's Champions League. eurohandball.com talks to him about his achievement.

Karabatic: Never So Much Pressure Before

The 2006/07 Men’s Champions League ended with two great battles between Kiel and Flensburg. One of the top stars of Kiel was Nikola Karabatic who scored 17 goals in the finals.

Strict marking...It was not the first CL title of the French international. Though Karabatic is only 23, he already has significant record of successes. He won Champions League with Montpellier four years ago and European Championship with France in 2006.

Apart from celebrating the coveted CL trophy, Karabatic can also be proud of his top scorer title that he claimed with 89 goals during the season. In fact, he was in great competition with Christiansen from Flensburg, but his nine goals at the decisive second leg decided the issue. The young star is always helpful and ready to talk about handball; eurohandball.com asked him about the final.

eurohandball.com: How do you feel about the victory a couple of days after lifting the cup?

Nikola Karabatic: It’s unbelievable what we did! Incredible that we were able to win such a game with so few players left. It was very difficult and it only makes us even happier.

Karabatic celebrates one of his 89 goals this seasoneurohandball.com: The few players left showed really remarkable team spirit…

Nikola Karabatic: It is a team of friends. We get on very well with and understand each other. It is a great feeling to win such a title together with friends.

eurohandball.com: It was not your first CL success, however. What was the difference between the two victories?

Nikola Karabatic: Four years ago it was a different situation. One country was represented by only one team and it was easier to make it till the final. It is more difficult to win now against three German and four Spanish clubs.

In 2003, when I played in Montpellier, we lost the first leg of the final by eight goals in Pamplona. No one believed in our victory any more and we played without any stress. At the end we won by twelve at home.

This time we made an away draw and people expected us to win. There was a lot of stress on us – especially if you take into account that Flensburg did not have so many injuries.

eurohandball.com: You must be used to pressure, after all…

He is also the centre of the Kiel defence Nikola Karabatic: There has never been so much pressure on us before. The CL title was near after the first leg and THW Kiel has never won CL before. We had to keep the cup at home against Flensburg and I also wanted to be part of the first CL winning squad of Kiel.

eurohandball.com: You played quite freely in the finals. Was it a surprise to you?

Nikola Karabatic: We expected them to mark me closely. We even practiced some solutions against man marking. They have not done it at the first leg and they did it quite late in the second leg as well. It was good for me, I could play more freely.

eurohandball.com: Do you expect more severe marking now that you have become top scorer of the CL?

Karabatic still needed an hour after this momentNikola Karabatic: I don't think it makes a difference. They have known me before and defenders already pay enough attention.  

eurohandball.com: You had no time to rest during the games at all. You had to play in attack and in defence as well.

Nikola Karabatic: I played in defence and attack, it’s true. I played in the Champions League and also in the national team, so I’m quite tired at the moment. We still have four weeks to go and then I can go on holiday for a month. I’m looking forward to that, of course.

eurohandball.com: The celebration after the game must have compensated you for the fatigue.

Nikola Karabatic: The atmosphere was incredible at the end, but I could hardly believe that we made it. I needed an hour to get myself together after the final whistle. Even an hour later I was still asking the others whether it is true. I did not have energy left, but I felt relief from the pressure.

TEXT: eurohandball.com