Romero keeps farewell thoughts for after the EHF Cup Finals
It is not long – ‘only’ the span of two Bundesliga matches and as icing on the cake the EHF Cup Finals on the Berlin home court – and the successful career, including two EHF Champions League victories and gold at the World Championship 2005, of Iker Romero will have come to an end.
The 33-year-old left back has been playing for Füchse Berlin since 2011 and will bid farewell to professional handball after this season.
Romero now hopes to reach yet another final but first and foremost focuses on the semi-final against Pick Szeged.
eurohandball.com: Ttwo days prior to the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin: What are your current feelings when you think about the event?
Iker Romero: I’m very, very excited. This tournament is what we have worked for so hard for the entire season. It will be really difficult against Szeged, but we are totally looking forward to hosting this event.
eurohandball.com: So no thoughts that those two games in Berlin will be your last international matches?
Iker Romero: No, at the moment I really don’t care and think about that, about saying farewell or whatever. I focus on the matches, I concentrate on the preparation, and I don’t have any thoughts about something else. In terms of farewell, we all have to realise: It’s only sports, and in sports it’s normal that someone ends his career. So nothing really important!
eurohandball.com: Looking back at the time in Berlin and on your long career in general, what have been your personal highlights?
Iker Romero: Oh, there were so many….OK, starting with Füchse Berlin, it was definitely winning the German Cup four weeks ago and being part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2012, which was a huge success for all of us. But I had so many great moments with this club… Regarding my time in Spain, definitely the best moment was becoming world champions in 2005. On club level I had a very successful time at Barcelona with the two Champions League trophies as the highlights.
eurohandball.com: Your teammate Silvio Heinevetter said recently that everybody in the team is still quite relaxed. With less than 48 hours to go, is it still the same?
Iker Romero: We are very focussed in our preparation. When I say, we are all excited, this does not mean that we are nervous, we just feel this pure anticipation. We feel that we are all ready for this great game against Szeged on Saturday. It is their advantage that they are not under pressure, but we are, as we are the hosts. But we have shown in the past that being under a certain pressure is not bad for us, in contrast: We like this pressure, we play at home, we will enjoy the weekend.
eurohandball.com: How important is the role of your fans to push Füchse to the limit?
Iker Romero: Very important! We have experienced this great atmosphere playing in a full arena so often, and we know what the fans are able to do this. Of course, we in particular need their support in difficult moments, but in general everybody who is there will experience a great atmosphere.
eurohandball.com: Two matches within 24 hours – a challenge or a tough task?
Iker Romero: It is difficult indeed, but not only for me and Füchse, but all four teams have to take on this challenge. But as I said I don’t think about the final or anything, what might happen on Sunday, but only about Pick Szeged.
eurohandball.com: You are known as a family man. Will friends and family from Spain arrive for the EHF Cup Finals?
Iker Romero: Of course, a lot of friends and family from Barcelona and Vitoria, my home town, will be in Berlin this weekend.
eurohandball.com: And they will again see that you really fell in love with Berlin…
Iker Romero: This is true. The club, the city – I really like everything.
eurohandball.com: Is this why you will stay connected with Füchse after the end of your active career?
Iker Romero: Yes, I had some talks with our manager Bob Hanning that I will play a certain role in the club. But we will discuss all this when the EHF Cup Finals have been played.
eurohandball.com: As you mentioned, Füchse won the German Cup some weeks ago. Is this another motivation for hoping to lift the next trophy on Sunday?
Iker Romero: First of all the pressure of winning a title is gone for us. Füchse never have won a single title in their club history before, so it was brilliant to win the German Cup. But now we fight again for the next trophy, to feel this same joy again.
eurohandball.com: As you are Füchse team captain: Have you already woken up in the night, dreaming that you get handed over the EHF Cup trophy on Sunday?
Iker Romero (laughing): No, if I dream, I dream of anything but handball or this trophy.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts