Vugrinec: "We will not wave the white flag"Article
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INTERVIEW: The evergreen Renato Vugrinec will not be shying away from the challenge of THW Kiel and hopes the wonderful home support will drive Metalurg to a first leg advantage

Vugrinec: "We will not wave the white flag"

At the age of 38, Renato Vugrinec is playing one of the best seasons of his career. He is raising the bar in the VELUX EHF Champions League and he is the man who currently holds top spot in the scorers list. Before Saturday’s quarter-final match, he believes that opponents Kiel are one of the top favourites for the Champions League trophy, but anything is possible if his team can win in Skopje. Are you satisfied with the progress of your career? How does it feel to be the top scorer in the competition at the age of 38?

Renato Vugrinec: This is a good question and I don’t know whether I should be modest or not, but I have to say that it is wonderful feeling because all of your efforts pay off. You gain satisfaction from playing at a high level and you can feel the adrenalin and pleasure from great matches. What was your first reaction to the quarter-final draw?

Renato Vugrinec: We are talking about a great team coming to Skopje where they will feel the amazing atmosphere in the Boris Trajkovski Arena.

Besides Barcelona, they are the favourites to win the title which also makes them favourites in the upcoming match. This match will be a great day for Macedonians and we have nothing to lose. We also passed our expectations this season, however, this is sport and anything can happen.

We are not waving the white flag, but instead we will fight as we do this in every match. It is important to win the game at home and then we have time to think and analyse what to do before the return match. You played in the German Bundesliga for several seasons. Do you still follow the league and in particular, Kiel’s midweek game with Rhein Neckar Lowen?

Renato Vugrinec: I don’t really have the time to follow German championship but I surely watched Kiel’s last match in the Bundesliga. They didn’t have their best performance but they still are a top team.

Perhaps our advantage is home court. Maybe we will be able to stop them with our slow game. The main focus will be on trying to stop their fast ball transition, which is even problematic for the camera. We have to be very careful because this team has great defence and super goalkeepers. What were your expectations before arriving in Skopje and how do you feel now? Has your attitude towards the country changed much?

Renato Vugrinec: I didn’t expect anything in particular because I’m professional in my job. After two years of negotiation we finally made a deal in the third year and it was a plus for me to come here as handball has become so popular in this country.

Metalurg was a club with high ambitions and this was very important for me. When I look back at the past year many good things happened in the team, we are among the top eight teams for the second year in a row and more importantly manage to win matches against top teams.

I also liked the fact that Skopje is a wonderful city with great people who know how to show respect to valuable and important things. During your career you played under the guidance of many different coaches. What makes Lino Cervar different to the others?

Renato Vugrinec: I had many coaches and each of them has something positive. If I could take the best of all of them then it is possible to describe the ideal coach. Lino plays special attention to the player’s psychology.

I must note that there is difference if you are coach in Germany, Spain or here, because you have to adapt to the conditions in the country and he does this very well. In the end the most important thing is to produce good results and he is successfully doing this. How hard was for your team to play without Naumce Mojsovksi?

Renato Vugrinec: Mojsovski is a world class player. We surely miss him and I feel really sorry for his injury. We had to deal with a similar situation last season, we simply had to continue with our games and each player took bigger responsibility. One of the big winter signings was young back court player Luka Cindric. What is your relationship with the younger players in the team? Do you feel like a leader?

Renato Vugrinec: It is good that Luka adapted very fast in the team and this helped us a lot. You can’t become a leader only because of your age, but simply this comes with the performances you show and the attitude you have towards your teammates at training.

There is a little hierarchy, but I have an attitude which is based on respect towards my colleagues and it is great when the same comes from their side. We are all fighters on the court and this is the most important part. Tickets for the game were sold in just eight minutes. What kind of message is this for Kiel?

Renato Vugrinec: It is not for the first time that the tickets were sold very fast and this only shows that it is not easy to play in the Boris Trajkovski arena. I have played in front of 14,000-20,000 people in Germany but I simply can't compare this with Macedonian fans.

While speaking about this, I have goose bumps all over, as it is absolutely amazing how they raise us up with the fantastic support.

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cor