Berlin’s Romero preparing return to Barcelona
After almost a decade in Barcelona, Iker Romero moved to Füchse Berlin in search of a new challenge. He lifted the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy in 2011 with Barcelona, but after moving to Berlin he was part of one of the most interesting success stories of last season.
The Foxes sneaked past Chekhovskie to reach the play-offs by just one point, thanks to their one-goal victory in the last round. And they then upset big favourites Hamburg in the Last 16 before a marvellous comeback in the Quarter-final, when they rallied from 11 goals down to secure a spot in the VELUX EHF Final4 and ensure Romero was going to Cologne for the third time in a row.
This weekend Romero, together with another new addition from Barcelona Konstantin Igropulo, will be returning to their former club and record-breaking EHF Champions League side as Barcelona host the Group D Round 2 match on Saturday (16.15 hrs). Before his team´s trip to Spain the left back talks to ehfCL.com.
ehfCL.com: What are your feelings before returning to Barcelona with Füchse?
Iker Romero: Of course I am a bit excited and nervous to be going back to a club where I played nine years. But I want to have fun and play a good game there. So we will see what happens.
ehfCL.com: Do you expect any special welcome by the home club or fans?
Iker Romero: I think the spectators will be glad to see each other again. I am nervous about how the game will go. But it is a special game for everybody I think.
ehfCL.com: What do you consider to be your best moment in Barcelona?
Iker Romero: I remember a lot of great moments in Barcelona, such as the Champions League Final, or winning all the Spanish titles. I will be a part of this club forever. I cannot recite every moment, but there were a lot.
ehfCL.com: There were many changes in your old team during the summer, what do think of the new team?
Iker Romero: Of course it was hard for them to lose Igropulo and Nagy. But now they have Arpad Sterbik for example, one of the best goalkeepers in the world. They have a super team and it will be hard for us in Palau Blaugrana.
ehfCL.com: Last season you were the only player defending the title at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, because Barcelona did not make it through. Do you think the same could happen again this season? What are the chances of qualifying, both for Berlin and Barcelona?
Iker Romero: I think Barcelona must surely reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with this team. We have to fight hard to reach it again, but we also had to do this last year so we will see if we get the chance experience it again.
ehfCL.com: In the summer you met up with another player from Barcelona in Berlin, did you play any part on the Igropulo´s transfer?
Iker Romero: I knew that Konstantin Igropulo was the right man for Füchse Berlin. And of course I told him something about the club and the city before he came here. It is good for everybody that he is here and I am happy he is now in Berlin because Tino is a very good friend of mine.
ehfCL.com: You are entering your second season in Germany, what was your biggest obstacle when getting used to everything in Berlin?
Iker Romero: Of course it was not easy. It is another culture, another language and also another style of playing handball. I really love Spain but I also got used to the German style of living very well.
ehfCL.com: The media interest before the game in Barcelona is very high. How many interviews have you done?
Iker Romero: People remember me which is good and I am happy about that. In the end there were more than 10 journalists from radio, newspaper and online who wanted to interview me. It was exhausting but it was fun!
ehfCL.com: Do you have a special duty as a tourist guide for the team?
Iker Romero: I helped our office a lot and prepared something for dinner for the guys. Me and my team-mates have an important game on Saturday, so we are just focusing on that. But if we win on Saturday I am sure me and Tino will find some way to enjoy the evening.
*One minute of silence will be held before the start of this match as a mark of respect to former Barcelona player Erhard Wunderlich, who passed away on Thursday.
Follow the match live on ehfTV.com powered by LAOLA1.tv on Saturday (16:15 hrs local time).
TEXT: Andre Tzschaschel/Füchse Berlin