MAN FROM THE SHADOW, Xavi Sabate: Focus on thing under my control | Handball Planet
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MAN FROM THE SHADOW, Xavi Sabate: Focus on thing under my control

The EHF CL 2015 Finalist MVM Veszprem sacked Antonio Carlos Ortega two months ago, after three successful years. Wtihout significant reason in the first month of the season, Hungarians stayed without head-coach who brought them to EHF FINAL4 final just four months earlier in Cologne. The biggest question in handball world became “who will replace Ortega?”, but the work of just interim solution, Ortega’s first assistant – Xavier Sabate (39), made all the rumors much quieter. “The man from the shadow” showed constancy, tenacity in every-day work under pressure, provided the highest level of performance and results in situation with some injured  players like Nagy and Zeitz, but also proved that the system in which he worked with his friend and colleague in the past was good.

Xavi Sabate talked for about specific role in the last two months…

How do you satisfied with the first part of the season in EHF CL Preliminary Round? Could team make more in the opening seven matches?

– We lost only in Paris, in match where our team deserved more. Every match is very tough in the new EHF CL system. There are seven matches more and I haven’t doubts that the team will fight to try to win the group. The team must live the present and looking forward to the future. These guys always give their maximum.

How will be Veszprem biggest rivals in the battle for the Place No.1 in the Group?

–  The competition is very tough and all the teams can beat everyone. We must be focused on our team and our matches, to try to prepare every match as better as we can. We have to focus on things which we can control. In this moment, it seems that the first place could win Paris, Flensburg, Kiel or Veszprém. All the matches are like final.


How do you see individual progress of your players? Nagy and Ilic are still the „bosses“ of the team.

– The team is in normal progress for this period of the season. Like in the last three seasons, the team is getting better and better. The new players are adapting on time to their team-mates, system, Club and country. All the players in MVM Veszprém are top, for me the best, but Nagy László is special. He is not only one amazing complete player, he is a real team-leader, sport player and an incredible person. He is an example for everybody and he is playing at his best level. There aren’t another player in the world who can compare with Laszlo’s skills.


Could we expect more from Aron Palmarsson? How do you see Ivan Slisković progress?

– Newcomers (Palmarsson and Sliskovic) are adapting very fast and well to the team. All the players need time. All the players are important for the team. They are young and they are the present and the future of the Club. Palmarsson has incredible skills. He can surprise you in every moment with something. About Sliskovic, he is very, very complete player, worker, he wants to learn. He is hungry to be better and better. I haven’t doubts that he will be soon the world’s best left back.


You stayed in the club to replace Carlos Ortega on some period of time. How tough was to keep team’s motivation and approach on the highest level in situation when you, players and the fans are aware „that every next day could be your last in the club“?

– Carlos Ortega is a top coach. I know him from 1994 when he arrived to FC Barcelona. He is my friend and my mate during 10 seasons. One coach like him will be soon in a TOP team fighting for Final4. I only can speak from my side. For me, it was really hard and very difficult situation. However, we are professionals and must try to give the best even in difficult situations.

Did you change something radical in training process after Ortega’s departure? How do you see Veszprem after Carlos and what will be his legacy in Hungarian team?

– No. I worked with Ortega the last 10 seasons. I like this system. I didn’t change anything because I believe in that and another reason – there were no time for that. Trainings are very similar. Of course, every coach has his own ideas. Maybe I changed small things, but basically are very similar.


How you „defend“ from the piles of gossips about the coaching names – candidates for Veszprem’s bench. There were a lot of them – Schwalb, Červar, Goluža, Zovko, Johanesson, Vujović, Dujshebaev, etc…

– The team must be focused in the things that can control. This is out of my control. I’m focused in try to prepare the team for the next match. Match by match.


At the end, how far is Veszprem from the EHF Champions League trophy in 2016?

– Firstly, there is a group of eight teams- who can play at FINAL4. We will see how will these candidates arrive in the crucial part of the season. There are more injuries this season than ever. Every match is like a final. How will teams look like in April and May, it is the most important. In Cologne, everything can happen in two matches for 24 hours. I’m sure that MVM Veszprém will fight for the trophy. The players work very hard for this. And here are the best supporters in the world! They deserve it! – concluded Xavi Sabate his interview for

PHOTO:[Fotó: Melczer Zsolt] /



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