A moment with...Uros ZormanArticle
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INTERVIEW: The Three-time EHF Champions League winner from Slovenia speaks about his great success in Europe, his former career, numerology and the arrival of Talant at Kielce

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A moment with...Uros Zorman

If you have ever entered a handball court for the warm-up of the Kielce team you will see a guy with a long sleeve warm up top under his jersey and long black pants looking like three quarter lengths as he has tucked them into his white socks. His name is Uros Zorman, one of the stand-out Slovenian players of his generation, and a player that has won 3 EHF Champions League medals in his career. It is no mean feat, and it is not a coincidence that he has been brought to teams that compete at the highest level of handball. But behind the ice-cool professional lies a very funny guy with some great quirks and a sense of humour that is infectious and self-deprecating at the same time. Unfortunately for us and him, we will not be seeing him in any further matches of this year’s competition as they lost in agonising style over two legs to RNL. However, when I spoke to him, pre-Plock, at home, everything was looking very, very rosy.

“New, old system”

Uros Zorman is just a funny guy. The way he describes things is hilarious. Talant is his coach again at Kielce, having served under him at Ciudad Real for three years, during their most successful era. He describes the changes at Kielce as being tougher, more disciplined, longer trainings and a bigger emphasis on tactics. For him though, it is like a blast from the past and memories come flooding back. It is probably easier for him to adapt to “Talant’s System” as he has been there before. He admits that he learned a new system, post-Talant, when he arrived back at Celje under Serdarusic, and he has employed since then, a kind of mix of both.

“I always have my last CL medal in my necessaire”

Even though I have a penchant for watching antique programmes, I had forgotten what a necessaire is. It is a toilet bag. He put his last CL medal in it after the victory in 2009 and it has remained there ever since. I joke with him that for most people a CL medal is very precious. He replies that it is there to remind him and others around him just exactly what they are playing for. This is a man who won’t change his socks and underwear if they win. He does if they lose, but he assures me they are washed between games. He also has a small wallet with certain things in it; particularly something his wife gave him, although he doesn’t tell me what, and if they are missing before the game, then his wife must bring them to him, otherwise he doesn’t feel prepared. He is superstitious, but less so as he gets older.

“Numerology; it’s my mother’s hobby”

So it should come as no surprise that he chooses his squad numbers based on numerology. It is too long to explain here, but it is mind-boggling and side-splittingly funny how a pro athlete approaches something that we might all take lightly. He actually changed his squad number at Kielce the season they lost the Polish league. His mother told him to take 23 as Beckham had it and Jordan had it and so handball needs a 23 as well.

“We got a little bit lucky”

Maybe the squad number had something to do with it, but their route to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 last year was somewhat serendipitous. He ponders the question as to whether they were, as a team, just happy to be there, but then insists that they did want to win it. He delves into the matter by saying that 2 games in 2 days means that anyone can. A sore foot on the day of the game can be the difference between winning and losing. In the end, he says philosophically, no one expected Hamburg to win. You can’t disagree.

“Zut: Zorman Uros Tackleberry”

He is a true pro. Even under the most stressing of noise, as Polish workers prepared the arena, he kept going. He spoke about his career as a police man and if you want to hear more, take a look at this clip we did over a year ago. But lest you think that he is all laughs and smiles, he does think deeply about the game. He recalls Talant’s words before a big final. “Each final you lose, you keep those scars in your heart”. He heard those words at 29. He is now 34. Had you told him then that he wouldn’t win another CL medal, he would not have believed you. But that is the fact. The man who has won every major honour, in three different countries is gunning for the title again.

“I am not the bull anymore”

His playing style has adapted. He doesn’t charge around anymore, but is cleverer about the way he plays the game. I tell him he is annoying for the opposition. He doesn’t disagree. He has three more years at the club. But he also knows that it is a professional organisation and that as a player you can expect no loyalty. “It’s not a family club, it’s a professional club,” he points out and they have at their centre a man who can, not only still play, but can pass on his knowledge to the younger teammates.

He is a winner. He is a star. He is a guy you could have a great night out with as his stories are top class. And who knows, with Talant at the head of this organisation, maybe it’s time for a change of medal in the toilet bag.

Unfortunately after the game at Rhein Necker Lowen, it won’t be this year. They lost on away goals. The final score was 55:55. It’s a neat number, which he might like in a numerology sense, but it brought him no luck in the end.

Listen to the full interview between Tom and Uros here.

TEXT: Tom Ó Brannagáin / cor