“I just can’t get enough!“Article
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Kiel’s world class Nikola Karabatic talks about the second leg of the CL final, about his ambitions and also about the “THW family”.

“I just can’t get enough!“

At the age of 24, Nikola Karabatic will play his third Champions League final. He won both before with Montpellier (2003) and Kiel (2007). Most experts say that the Frenchman is currently the best handball player of the world. After winning in Ciudad Real (with the help of nine Karabatic goals), he hopes to raise the trophy again after in Kiel. He also warns: “we have to be very careful”.

Karabatic in actionEurohandball.com: Did you expect winning in Ciudad Real by two goals?

Karabatic: We didn’t expect anything, because it was our only objective to play a good and successful handball. We knew in advance that it would be a tough match, but we didn’t want to take too much pressure on us.

Eurohandball.com: What was the key to the success?

Karabatic: Defence, first of all. I think we never defended so well during the whole season. And as we were three goals behind in the second half, the great saves of goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer and my goals brought us back in the match.

Eurohandball.com: Can this result turn out to be dangerous for your team? You could even take it too easily?

Karabatic: I’m very cautious because of this result. Euphoria can be dangerous and some people already believe that we won. But it’s not so easy against a team like Ciudad Real – a strong team at the away matches. We have a better starting point than Ciudad, for sure, but in case we lose the match at home, we don’t deserve the CL title.

Holding his first CL title (and his mate Gigou with it)Eurohandball.com: Do you also believe that the two currently best teams of the world met in the finals?

Karabatic: Yes. Ciudad have some of the best handballers of the world, they’re individually world class players. But we have the strongest team in the world and in addition we also have some very good individual players.

Eurohandball.com: This is the third CL final for you and you won twice. What do these matches against Ciudad Real mean for you?

Karabatic: To win the CL title is the greatest thing you can reach on a club level. You train hard a whole year to reach such a game. And I’m highly motivated, just as I was before my first finals. I just can’t get enough!

Eurohandball.com: You said before the season that one of your objectives is to win the CL title more times than Andrei Xepkin, who won seven times. You can come closer on Sunday…

Karabatic: Andrei won the CL six times with Barcelona – at a period when only the national champions qualified for the CL. Nowadays you have four Spanish and German teams, two from France, and so on. The competition changed completely and it’s much harder to win the CL today, so every title worth more than before. But I still hope to reach the number of titles of Xepkin.

Last year lifting the trophy for the second timeEurohandball.com: Last season Kiel won the “triple”. This season you’re again very close to win everything on national and international level. What’s the secret of Kiel?

Karabatic: The most important is our team spirit. We really have fun playing together. In addition, we are always hungry for successes; we want to win every match and every title.

Eurohandball.com: Your contract will terminate in 2012. What would you say if the manager Uwe Schwenker would offer you a new the contract for ten years?

Karabatic: I would say that we should talk about it. THW is a real family for me. I didn’t only find players, but friends in this team. Coach Noka Serdarusic is something like a father for me. So currently I don’t want to play in any other team. It is also true that times can change very quickly, but if it stays like it is, I’ll stay very long.

Eurohandball.com: A brief look at the Bundesliga: Kiel need one point from the last two matches to win again. Will you celebrate next Wednesday in Göppingen?

Karabatic: If we win there, it’s very good. Then the pressure will be gone. But if we lose in Göppingen, I know that we will win our last match on home court against Wetzlar and we will celebrate then.

Eurohandball.com: Are Kiel unbeatable in the Bundesliga?

Karabatic: No team can be unbeatable; this makes sports interesting. We can be German champions for the fourth time in a row, but every year it gets harder for us as the rivals improve. Flensburg will not be as strong as they were this season, after Lijewski and Lackovic changing the club to Hamburg. Accordingly, HSV will be even stronger. Also Rhein Neckar Löwen can be dangerous for us, but this will take some time.

TEXT: Björn Pazen