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05.08.2015, 15:00
Maqueda: "In Vardar everybody is moving in the same direction"
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: Jorge Maqueda discusses his move to Vardar this summer and what he expects to give and get in return from his new club
 

Maqueda: "In Vardar everybody is moving in the same direction"

After three seasons wearing the French side HBC Nantes’ jersey, Spanish right back Jorge Maqueda has decided to move and sign with Vardar Skopje.

In FYR Macedonia, he will meet some of the most fervent fans in Europe and will finally take part in the VELUX EHF Champions League, a competition he has never played in before.

He leaves Nantes with a French league cup title in his pocket, as well as a silver medal from EHF Cup (losing in the final against Rhein-Neckar Löwen in 2013).

The 27-year-old sat down with eurohandball.com to talk about his arrival at his new team and discuss his new surroundings.

ehfcl.com: How did playing in France for three seasons influence your game?  

I'm actually very happy about how everything turned out. Nantes was my first handball experience outside of Spain and I was lucky to work with some wonderful people. Regarding handball there, I discovered and learned to play a different style of handball. I also enjoyed winning my first ever club title (winning the French league cup).

ehfcl.com: With everything running so smoothly in France why did you decide to change to Vardar Skopje?

The first reason is very simple: I wanted to play in the VELUX EHF Champions League. Up until now, I've never taken part in this competition. I have played in the EHF Cup a couple of times with Nantes, and I think that this is right now the best time for me to take on such a challenge. Another reason was in Raul Gonzalez, who I'm sure will help me to become a better player.

ehfcl.com: In what way can he help you to become a better player?

Well, what attracted me most when we talked together was his drive to make me improve my game on both sides of the court. I have to stop rushing myself in offensive situations, I have to use all my abilities and not rely only on one-versus-one situations. He wants me to expand my game, by trying new things and not only hoping for a situation to occur or fall back on old habits.

ehfcl.com: With Raul Gonzalez and others in the squad hailing from Spain, is the ‘Spanish factor’ a decisive element when it comes to choosing a new club?

Of course, it is not the main reason but it counts. The fact that you can rely on people you know, who speak the same language makes it easier for a new foreign player to adapt. I've known Alex Dujshebaev and Arpad Sterbik from the national team so the transition will be a lot easier for me.

ehfcl.com: Talking about Alex and Arpad, what did they tell you about Vardar?

They told me it was a very serious club, even though it is young on the Europe circuit. They mentioned how everybody is moving in the same direction in order to reach the club’s goals. And that everybody here, from the fans to the president, love handball.

ehfcl.com: Do you think that playing in Europe every weekend can help you to up your game?

Of course! The fact that I will play more games, at a higher level and compete against the best players in the world every weekend can only be a good thing for me. Furthermore, coming up against teams like Veszprem in the SEHA league will be a great experience.

ehfcl.com: Vardar just fell short of making it to the VELUX EHF Champions League FINAL4 the last two seasons. Do you think you can make it this time around?

While it is true that Cologne has been just out of our reach the past two seasons, I feel that we can make that extra step this time. But it is still early days yet so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. I am new here and my first goal is to fit in and adapt to my new life here. I hope to give this team my all so that we can give it our best shot in the Champions League - a competition, which is getting stronger and stronger each season.


ehfcl.com: When you were younger you were tipped to be one of Spain’s top players and now at 27 you are one of the key players for your national team, how does that feel?



I think you are exaggerating a little bit. In the Spanish national team there are no real key players, everyone has to earn their spot in the side and if you are not performing there is always somebody else who will readily take your place. International handball is different in this regard to club handball where your position is somewhat more reliable, however, saying that, you should never take your spot for granted at club or international level - that is key.   

ehfcl.com: Why do you consider this mentality 'key'?



If you see yourself as a ‘key player’ in your team then you get complacent and your performances will only suffer. This is something every player should avoid.


ehfcl.com: During your six-year period playing for Barcelona you only had one year in the first team. Would you have liked to have continued playing for the Catalan side?

I would have liked to return to Barca because this club has given me everything that has shaped me as a professional player. But I don’t regret any decisions I have made, I am happy with all the decisions I have made in my life and I am delighted to be playing with Vadar and hopefully we can beat them in the Champions League.

ehfcl.com: When you look back at your playing career thus far, do you have any difficult memories?

There is only one and that would be not dealing with the rebound that Accambray capitalised upon in the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games in London. It led to a last-second goal and I only regret not having fouled him in some way to have stopped the play. It is a difficult memory for me and it is something which I will think about my whole life.

Photo: Stephane Pillaud


TEXT: Kevin Domas, Adrià Barrio Castellarnau / bc
 
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