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20.04.2016, 18:50
Sterbik: "Vardar are a team with great fighting spirit"
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INTERVIEW: Vardar goalkeeper shares the key for success against his former club in the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals
 

Sterbik: "Vardar are a team with great fighting spirit"

A couple of years ago, few would have believed that a goalkeeper of Arpad Sterbik’s stature would play for a club like Vardar, once without a prestigious history in Europe.

He has an impressive career laden with achievements and titles, now a former clubs stands between him and the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.

With three EHF Champions League titles under his belt, Aprad Sterbik surely knows the recipe for success in this competition, which he speaks about with ehfCL.com.

ehfCL.com: With so many years of experience behind you, you are very clam on court. How do you manage to achieve this?

This is all matter of experience that you gain by playing numerous important matches which teach you how to control yourself. There can be many changes during the game.

Sometimes you have a good start and then you lose shape, but I always try to remain calm until the end and keep my strength and motivation.

I experience everything deep inside but I’m not the kind of person that shows visible emotions in every situation.  Of course, I celebrate after the match if we have positive result.

ehfCL.com: Back in the 2001/02 season you played your first EHF Champion League Final with Veszprém. Can you tell us more about this experience?

I remember this match very well because I was very young when I played the first Champions League final. This was very important match and season for me and I think that we deserved to play in the final.

We had a mix of young and veteran players at that time and it was very important for Veszprem because the team waited long time for this final. On our way to the final we managed to eliminate some big clubs and, besides the fact that we didn’t win, it had an important impact on my personal development.

ehfCL.com: How much have Veszprém changed over the years. What do you think is the biggest strength of the team nowadays?

When I played for this team we had seven or eight good players in the roster. Today the team has 16 good players and this is a very big improvement. At this point I can say that Veszprem is the most complete team in the Champions League.

They have a great mixture of players that play Spanish style and I think that they are among the three teams that will fight for the trophy. It is hard to mention any weaknesses for this team and even when they show weaker performances they still manage to win.

ehfCL.com: You already played against Veszprém this season but the Hungarian team came out on top. How do you see your next clash against them?

If we have intentions to reach Cologne then we must record a good result in the first leg. The exact score is not important at the moment but what matters the most is to show a good performance on court and take a positive result to the second leg in Veszprém.

Everyone in the country likes to see us qualify and I hope that we will have great atmosphere like in the previous games. Our fans really help us and push us when we experience difficulties and this time I hope that together we will create something special.

ehfCL.com: You experienced some back pain recently. How much has this injury affected your performance?

I didn’t play for the national team in order to recover, I wanted to be fully prepared for the quarter-finals and this pause without matches had results and now I feel better and train at full strength. The good news is that all other players are also feeling well and besides some minor issues we will enter the clash free of injury.

ehfCL.com: Currently you are playing your second season in Skopje. What makes Skopje more different than the other teams you played for?

I can’t say that there is a very huge difference. In Ciudad Real and Barcelona we had the best players in the world and here we improve our playing roster each season.

I like the fact that here in Vardar we managed to build a team with great fighting spirit which always strive to achieve a victory. Maybe our squad is weaker if compared with some other teams but we have not waved the white flag throughout the season.

ehfCL.com: To date you have three Champions league titles. What does it take for a team to go all the way?

You must have a lot of luck and a good team. It is also very important that the team has a good shape and the coach has an injury-free team. If you have all of these things, with emphasis on luck, then the odds to win the Champions League are in your favour.

ehfCL.com: Vardar have failed to progress past the quarter-finals in the last two seasons. Do Vardar have the quality to qualify to the VELUX EHF FINAL4? Which other teams do you think will make it?

One thing is for sure - success doesn’t come over night. Vardar are a young team that started with serious ambitions two-three years ago and I think that we are on the right track.

However, things are unpredictable as once you build the team you have other opponents that manage to constitute a stronger team. We had Kiel, Veszprem, Barcelona and Kielce and suddenly we have PSG as an example of a high class team that was built in just a few seasons.

Each season it becomes much more difficult to reach the spot in Cologne and it is really hard to predict whether we’ll make it this season. I can promise that we will give our best because we play against the number one competitor for the title.


TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cor
 
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