“Our mission is not accomplished yet”Article
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Interview with Veszprem's top star Laszlo Nagy about leading his team to Cologne for the first time

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Men's News

“Our mission is not accomplished yet”

When he returned home in 2012, after twelve successful years at FC Barcelona, Laszlo Nagy was something of a ‘messiah’ for Hungarian handball, for MKB-MVM Veszprem and the national team, for which he had not played for some years. Ever since, the tall right back is the key player at Veszprem – and contrary to most of his teammates he already participated and even won the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2011 with Barcelona. But now everything is different for Nagy, who embarks on his maiden voyage to Cologne with the Hungarian champions.

You were part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 twice with FC Barcelona. What’s the difference now with Veszprem?

Laszlo Nagy: It is totally different now, as it is the first time Veszprem has made it to Cologne. For us this is a dream came true, finally we have fulfilled our mission. But our mission definitely is not accomplished yet, as we still have two matches ahead and we want to show our best handball.

Your semi-final opponents, THW Kiel, handed you the role of favourite. Do you agree with it?

Laszlo Nagy: Definitely not! Every German team has a main advantage in international matches, as they are challenged in nearly every game of the Bundesliga. This strengthens a team enormously and gives the players important experience. Furthermore, THW Kiel has much more experience at FINAL4 events, as they are part of it for the fourth time, compared to us making our debut. So in my opinion there is no favourite in this semi-final. We are highly motivated and we are eager to take revenge on Kiel for the defeats in the previous season, when they stopped us in the quarter-finals.

Veszprem proved in those matches in 2013 that they are on the same level as Kiel. Does that boost your confidence?

Laszlo Nagy: You are right. In the away match in Kiel we showed one of our best performances ever and were intermediately away by five, six goals – but eventually we lost by one goal. However, we stood strong against one of the best teams in the world, which really boosts our confidence. We hope to manage to show our real face in the semi-final.

Last season Momir Ilic was on the other side wearing the THW jersey, now he is part of your team. Is it an advantage, as he knows everything about Kiel?

Laszlo Nagy: It is a clear advantage to have Momo in our team, not only because of his knowledge about Kiel. He is currently one of the best players in the world and he is doing a great job in Veszprem – and I am sure he will do a great job in Cologne. But at a tournament like the FINAL4, one or two players cannot decide a game, but all members of the squad, as it is a tough challenge to have two top matches within 24 hours.

Is it a good omen for your team that Hungarian side Györi Audi ETO KC defended their title in the Women’s EHF Champions League a couple of weeks?

Laszlo Nagy: I was in the Papp Laszlo Arena, when Györ defended their title and enjoyed this great atmosphere. To raise the trophy again was perfect for Hungarian handball, and it was a pleasure for me to watch the Györ team. Of course, we try to do the same, but it will be very hard.

What major changes occurred in your team since 2012, when Carlos Ortega became the new coach?

Laszlo Nagy: We have changed our style of play completely. We strengthened the defence, we play much faster and use more counter-attacks. I think when Carlos Ortega arrived, it meant the biggest changes in the history of the club and everybody is happy with him as a coach - players, fans and the entire club.

Looking back in history, Veszprem have once been part of an EHF Champions League final, back in 2002, when they narrowly lost to SC Magdeburg, coached by Alfred Gislason. Now you face THW Kiel, also coached by Gislason. Does this history have any significance to you?

Laszlo Nagy: It’s so long ago, that it’s only part of history in my opinion. Veszprem have changed completely, Gislason is coaching Kiel now. But he is still one of the best handball coaches of the world. So maybe we can say that we have a very late rematch against Gislason in Cologne.

Should you win the semi-final, chances are that you face your former team FC Barcelona. Are you already thinking about an opportunity likes this?

Laszlo Nagy: No! Before travelling to Cologne I was only thinking about the Hungarian league finals against Szeged, when those finals were over I only thought about THW Kiel. It is my character to do it step by step, so before both semi-finals are over and before it is confirmed that we face Barcelona, I will not think about Barca.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor