Croat legend Ivano Balić talks about his transfer to Madrid and about the upcoming season - first part of interview before the first Match of the Week of the new season
Focus on future, not history
Twice world handball player of the year, Olympic champion, world champion, twice EHF EURO silver medallist: Ivano Balić is one of the greatest current players on the global handball stage. But one title is still missing in the cabinet of the Croat legend: the trophy of the VELUX EHF Champions League.
After four years at RK Zagreb Balić returned to Spain, where he had already played for Portland San Antonio. Now he wears the jersey of Atlético Madrid – and right the first ever VELUX EHF Champions League match for his new club is a classic – the rematch of the 2012 final against THW Kiel on Sunday 30 September (18:00 hrs local time). This clash will start this season´s edition of Match of the Week series shown live on ehfTV.com with full English commentary from expert commentator, Tom Ó’Brannagáin. There will also be additional footage and special camera setups.
In the first part of the exclusive interview with ehfCL.com, Balić talks about his objectives in the new club and his new coach Talant Dujshebaev.
ehfCL.com: What are your first impressions of your new club Atlético Madrid?
Ivano Balić: It is a completely new playing system for me compared to Zagreb. It takes some time to adapt to this very complicated attacking system, but I hope that I learn fast and fulfill the expectations my new coach has in me.
ehfCL.com: Are you similar type of player as your new coach Dujshebaev was in his active career?
Ivano Balić: I was maybe in my younger days, not today. I changed my style of playing. I am not the one to score goals anymore. It is my job to bring our back court players and line players in position to shoot.
ehfCL.com: You had so many different coaches in your career. Do you think you can learn something from Dujshebaev, who said that you have been his number one choice among all players he could coach?
Ivano Balić: This is a big honour for me. Talant is a great coach, who won all major titles in the past years, maybe he is currently the best coach in the world. And I really believe that I can learn from him.
ehfCL.com: Atlético now have the only two persons under contract, who were awarded twice world handball player of the year. What does it mean to you?
Ivano Balić: I did not have any thought about this, and I believe that Talant also never thought about this constellation. But this was the past – and I focus on the present and the future, not on the history.
ehfCL.com: You are a very creative player with a lot of surprising and unexpected actions – will Talant allow you those actions in his strict system?
Ivano Balić: I hope that it is allowed, but I know that at first I have to play like he wants me to play in this system. I think two, three times per match I might do something unexpected, but the system comes first.
ehfCL.com: Is it easier for you to have a player like Kiril Lazarov on your side, with whom you already played in Zagreb?
Ivano Balić: Yes and no, because it is a different style of playing, a different system, which we play now. So in first hand it does not matter who is playing left or right of me. But of course it is good when you know some fellows.
Read Part 2 - Sort of homecoming on ehfCL.com here.
TEXT: Björn Pazen /br