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03.05.2013, 14:10
New challenge awaits Rivera
«Go back »Print Version


Former Spain coach gives an exclusive interview looking back over his time at the helm and explaining his departure
 

New challenge awaits Rivera

Shortly after securing qualification for the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark, Valero Rivera stepped down from the Spanish national team and in a move that shocked many, decided to take on the task of leading Qatar at their home World Championship in 2015.

He later wrote an open letter explaining some of the motivations for that decision.

In an exclusive interview, ehf-euro.com takes a deeper look into some of the ins and outs of the recent World Championship from the most successful coach in handball history and his decision to move on.

ehf-euro.com: The last match against FYR Macedonia in Guadalajara saw an end to your time as head coach of the Spanish national team. Apart from the 2013 World Championship, what are your best recollections from these four years?

Valero Rivera: Of course there is the Bronze medal in the last EHF EURO against Sweden, and also to witness a clear improvement in the team as years went by. It is always very gratifying to see players exhibiting the ideas the coach transmits and knowing exactly how to play in every moment.

ehf-euro.com: A tournament like a World Championship is long and many things may occur throughout the three weeks that it lasts. There are many matches in a short period of time. We all know what happened, but what was the real goal before the first whistle?

Valero Rivera: The real goal was to reach and play the final. You play at home; the team had been always present in the last stages of the different competitions we played; the support of the fans was incredible in Madrid, Zaragoza and Barcelona. Any less than that would have not been right for us. What happens in a final is sometimes out of control.

ehf-euro.com: For many, the level of defence shown was the key to success. Are you of the same opinion?

Valero Rivera: Absolutely. In the last World Championship the defence we displayed was fantastic. I think we made about 180 recoveries during the World Championship, which is an outstanding figure.

For instance, at half time in the final Sterbik had made three saves and Landin nine, but we were winning by eight goals. That gives an idea of the intensity of the defence.

ehf-euro.com: During the final match, when did you realise the title would stay at home?

Valero Rivera: At half-time with the score and how the players were performing, I understood we were going to become world champions.

ehf-euro.com: The match of your dreams against a “dream team” like Denmark was an incredible result. If somebody had told you that Spain would win by such a margin, what would you have thought?

Valero Rivera: I would have thought it was impossible, as everybody else would also have. I do not know if anyone made any money betting for that goal difference.

ehf-euro.com: Changing the subject, you have trained the Spanish National Team at two different stages with two different generations. Apart from the medals and titles, is there a big differentiation between the former and the latter?

Valero Rivera: Although I worked with tem which included players such as Lorenzo Rico, Mateo Garralda, Urdangarín, Enric Massip, Xavi O’Callaghan, Oscar Grau, Sagalés, Serrano and so on back then, I think time improves everything, which means that in my opinion the 2013 team would beat the one from my previous experience.

ehf-euro.com: The name Valero Rivera is a synonym of success in handball. Are you someone who is trying to beat yourself or do the results just become visible when the work is properly done?

Valero Rivera: I don’t try to beat myself or anything like that, I am just somebody who tries to do things as best as he can and consider myself lucky for making a living out of what I love to do, which is coaching.

I try to put my philosophy both in defence and attack and I think in every moment you have to think what’s best for the situation you are in. I intend to pass this to the players and success is when they can display it.

ehf-euro.com: In your opinion, do good trainers turn an excellent player into an even better one or are the good players the ones who have all the merit?

Valero Rivera: I’ve always thought that a bunch of very good players without a coach could win one tournament (only one), if that. However, the truth is, they really need somebody to guide them technically, tactically, with their behaviour, in the dressing room and in every situation in order to maximise their potential.

ehf-euro.com: After reaching mathematic qualification for the EHF EURO 2014 against FYR Macedonia, we could see an emotional Rivera walking towards the dressing room. What was going through your mind?

Valero Rivera: Many things were going through my mind that I would not like to say now. It was a very tough four year period, with some situations that I consider unfair.

I also felt very thankful to the players, to the president of the federation, to all those who had shown their affection to me, in the good and especially in the bad times.

ehf-euro.com: Do you feel there are some achievements not accomplished with this team, the EHF EURO for example?

Valero Rivera: I consider it would be offensive if somebody with the titles I’ve gathered throughout the years with FC Barcelona and with the national team said still there are more titles to be won. It would be selfish.

There is a recognition in Europe (nominated in 2001 by the EHF as best club coach of the 90’s) and I do not think there’s something more to be won but to keep on working.

ehf-euro.com: Finally, you have headed to a different country, to a different continent. What will your next aim be?

Valero Rivera: I simply want to help handball in Qatar. Things were not clear in Spain and they insisted a lot, especially the president of the Qatar Handball Federation.

There’s a lot of work to do as we have a World Championship in two years’ time and there is pressure already.

I have taken this position as a new start and I have to say that everyday I feel happier to have done it.


TEXT: Francisco Miranda / cor
 
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