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31.12.2012, 09:59
Popović: Thanks to those who gave me the chance to be myself
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The Montenegrin legend summarizes her last active year for ehfCL.com
 

Popović: Thanks to those who gave me the chance to be myself

Bojana Popović, six times EHF Champions League winner and two times top scorer, is considered to be one of the best ever handball players. Thanks to the European club title with Budućnost in May and silver medal with Montenegro at the Olympic Games in London, Bojana Popović earned lot of awards in her country in 2012. Together with a former team-mate Katarina Bulatović she was also elected best Montenegrin athlete of the year.

In an interiew for ehfCL.com Bojana Popović talked about accolades, about successes of Budućnost and Montenegro, and her new job.

ehfCL.com: Although you ended your career in August after the Olympics, you collected two awards in Montenegro – best athlete of city of Podgorica and, with Katarina Bulatović, best Montenegrin athlete in 2012. How do you feel about that, given the fact that you are used to this kind of recognition.

Bojana Popović: It’s a great honor and crown of my career which was long and full of excitement. I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to fall in love with the sport. Thanks to those who gave me the chance to be myself, who were part of my career and who participated together withme in my victories and defeats and shared with me good and bad.

ehfCL.com: Are these your favourite awards, because they were earned after the end of your career?

Bojana Popović: I have won a lot of trophies and awards. Each one is close to my heart in its own way. Those awards are not only mine, they belong to the whole team of Budućnost and Montenegro. I am happy because we had a winning team who made me get those awards. So, I have to say a big thanks to all my team-mates and coaching staff, because without them, there would not be all these accolades for me.

ehfCL.com: Last summer Budućnost made lot of team changes, and lost many players who won EHF Champion League title, including you. Although with rejuvenated team, Budućnost managed to get into Main Round of EHF CL. What is your review of the Group Matches of Budućnost?

Bojana Popović: Budućnost changed a lot, many young players are now in the team. But they already have showed the quality, character and proved they can continue in the last season’s rhythm. But when you get into the Main round everything is more difficult, with much stronger teams. Everything will be harder.

ehfCL.com: What do you expect from the Main Round, where Budućnost is going to play with Györi Audi ETO KC, Larvik and Randers HK?

Bojana Popović: I sincerely believe that, after EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, in the players, who played for Montenegro, there is a power and energy with which they can fight with all the teams who have brought all the players they needed. I hope that the second part of the season will also be successful.

ehfCL.com: The first match in the Main Round on 2 February is against Győr, your rivals in last season's EHF Champions League final. What emotions do you feel about this game?

Bojana Popović: The first final match against Győr in the past season, in Hungary, is a game that you play once or twice in career. I still remember that game because we could have lost the title there. However, we managed to get back into the match and to win a trophy in our "Morača" hall one week later. I will remember that final for whole my life.

ehfCL.com: Two years ago you announced your retirement plans for summer 2012, hoping to win EHF Champions League with Budućnost and play at the Olympics. You made it, you even won an Olympic medal. This season, your name was on the preliminary list of players for EHF Champions League and the EHF EURO in Serbia. However, you have not changed your decision. Do you regret, was there a single moment when you wished to change your decision and get back on the field?

Bojana Popović: The EHF Champions League final with Budućnost and the participation at the Olympic Games - this was all I dreamed about, that was the way I wanted to finish my career. That was the plan, I wouldn’t change anything. I'm happy with what I've done in my career. I have no motivation to play anymore. I don’t fight at all with the desire to go back on the court. I am very satisfied with a new role as sports director of Budućnost.

ehfCL.com: Even without you and Maja Savić, Montenegro managed to win gold at EHF EURO in Serbia. What is your comment of that?

Bojana Popović: I think the girls showed that they had the same character as at the London Olympics. Also, they showed the desire to prove themselves with some younger players who brought freshness. The girls played a fantastic final against Norway, in a game of nerves, goal by goal, with two extra periods. I think they showed how their mental strength has grown, which is very important in these competitions. I'm happy, because this is something they trained and worked for so many years. At the end it was all worth, girls deserved it.

ehfCL.com: Did any participating team surprise you at EHF EURO in Serbia?

Bojana Popović: The biggest disappointed came from the teams who were on the top in the past years. Simply, instead to summarise the results at the Olympics and turn to some new things, they were regreting on what happened in London. I am talking about France and Spain. Serbia was the most positive surprise. They pushed quite well through the tournament, although they didn’t provide fantastic games. But, they had a rhythm and they could have won even a medal. Before EHF EURO I predicted Hungary will go far and take a medal, because they missed last big competitions. They had big desire, they were rested more than the others and had a motivation to give the little more with a new coach.


TEXT: Saša Jončić / br
 
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