Lazarov hopes for Macedonian support – in the final at lastArticle
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INTERVIEW: Barcelona's top scorer dreams of winning his second VELUX EHF FINAL4 trophy in Cologne, before he departs.

»EHF CL Channel »2016-17 Men's News

Lazarov hopes for Macedonian support – in the final at last

He was top scorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League twice, record top scorer of World and European Championships, scored more than 1000 goals in European Cup competitions: Kiril Lazarov is one of the world’s best strikers of all time.

But only once in his long and successful career so far, the 37-year-old Macedonian has won the VELUX EHF Champions League: In 2015, with his current club FC Barcelona.

Before he departs to HBC Nantes this summer, Lazarov has high hopes for the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Firstly, he is looking forward to the semi-final against his fellow Macedonians of Vardar Skopje. It took you until 2015 to win the EHF Champions League trophy for the first time in your life - when you look back: Was it one of the greatest moments in your life?

Kiril Lazarov: Maybe yes. I had high expectations before as I wore the jerseys of Europe’s elite in club handball - and it was obvious to me: someday it will happen. I played many semi-finals and finals, and when the moment came in 2015, it was sweet and incredible at the same time. You have been part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 several times before. What makes this event so special?

Kiril Lazarov: Indeed, it is FINAL4 number five for me. To be part of this event is truly something special as you need to have a certain experience to play and to win it. What really is strange in the previous years is the fact that rarely the favourites won the trophy. Maybe one reason is that you have to be on a high twice within 24 hours, this makes playing the FINAL4 incredibly tough. It will be your last time with FC Barcelona at Cologne. Will it be more emotional knowing you leave Barca?

Kiril Lazarov: No, I will be relaxed and calm. I know what I can expect from myself after so many years, so I will give my best and enjoy those two days at Cologne. But is it extra motivation to have the chance to add another trophy to your cabinet?

Kiril Lazarov: When you made it to Cologne, you do not need any extra motivation, and for me personally, motivation is always present. Sometimes too much motivation is not good, and each player has to recognize that it is not about him, but only about the collective and the playing system. When you look back on your four years at Barcelona: What has been your best experience so far?

Kiril Lazarov: The greatest of all is to play for probably the best handball club of the world. It is all about dedication to handball, during and even after the career of top players. In Cologne you face Vardar, the top club from your home country Macedonia. Barcelona have the same number of Macedonian players in their 16-player squad - you and Borko Ristovski for Barca, Stoilov and Angelov for Vardar. Is it strange?

Kiril Lazarov: First of all, Vardar played an extremely successful season, for which I have great respect. The number of Macedonian players in the squad is more a political than a sports issue - and I do not interfere in anything or comment on it. The most important thing in this semi-final constellation is that definitely two Macedonians will make it to the final. Will the Macedonian fans support you or Vardar?

Kiril Lazarov: It is normal that they will support Vardar, it is the Macedonian club, and I fully accept this. But maybe if we win the semi-final, the Macedonians will support us in the final, I hope. What does the FINAL4 participation of two Macedonian players at Barca and one Macedonian club mean for Macedonian handball?

Kiril Lazarov: Everything. Handball is the No. 1 sport in Macedonia.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew