Here is the part of it…
- I’ll try to explain the position on all this and what it looks like now. We had better lineup last season and more rotation. With the lineup starting this season, we would be fighting for high goals. One is when you are waiting for the situation to improve in one season. This is the first time, a surprise, but we forced, worked, believed that it would be good, that the problems would be solved tomorrow, the day after tomorrow…. We had a great desire to do something believing that the situation would stabilize. It was very nice in Vardar from the beginning, the club treated us nicely all the previous years and therefore it was no problem to survive some period of time. You can’t spit in the plate you eat. It was normal to be able to endure….
We saw a miracle in Cologne last June, but …
- When the second season started with the same problems … You don’t have the same emotion, naturally, we waited too long, we threw out our energy, we gave everything we could when we won the Champions League. We’ve run out of energy, we’ve done everything in energy in Cologne. No more of that fire, we are disappointed, in the sense that we no longer believe, that this situation has become a normal state, a routine. We all have families, plans, the athlete is a man who must feel good, must have the motivation for sports and family. It’s normal for her to get nervous. Some guys are gone. You can endure half a year, you can end the season, but when it’s the second year, it’s a tough thing. Psychologically we broke our opponents in the field, now we have fallen. We have to fight everywhere, on and off the field, life is suffering, family is feeling that. I’m not just responsible for myself. When you were a young player, someone didn’t pay you for two months, you took your bag and you left. We are responsible people, we have children, families, plans, and we care for them. It’s a little different.
- Could you believe in that madhouse – the euphoria after returning from Cologne last June, when politicians, the authorities, all promised you that the club would stabilize, that we would tell stories like this eight months later, in February?
- No way. If there was a chance to save everything, it was to win the Champions League. And when we conquered it, people said that Vardar would survive, and that’s not where I’m talking about the club people, but the powerful people in the country. They said we had support and would never leave us. We stayed, it seemed like a dream all that. I know there are people who do not care, there are many fans who love Vardar, who heartily cheer every game, but the people can not change this situation. I can also understand that we have had a cycle with two titles in three years of the Champions League and it is time to cut the budget, let it be in half, let the salaries be reduced, that’s OK, I could understand that. Can’t figure it all down to zero? This is weird. They knew what the club was up to, they said it would help and in the end they did nothing. They didn’t give money. Now Sergei is in a position to cover his debts for what other people have promised. If people are saying that Samsonenko wanted to close the club last summer, he didn’t close it for one reason only because he was promised help. He told all of us “guys, it’s hard for me, I can’t fund the club anymore”. After Cologne, people from the state said help was coming. Now he is in a position to ask for money for those conversations that others were doing.
There is no doubt that Sergei Samsonenko is the cornerstone of Vardar’s “golden era”. He created all of this, but now from hero, patron and benefactor, his media figure is moving to the other extreme, into a villain, precisely because he has no clear communication about the future. You know him better than others, what does he really think?
- The man presented the situation exactly as I said. For seven years Samsonenko invested his money and made the most of it. A moment came in May last year when he came and said “guys, I can’t go anymore, I’ll pay you everything under the contract, but I can’t continue.” With that arrangement, we played that quarterfinal with Szeged. We started looking for new clubs because a man came to us and told us everything honestly. We could only say “thank you” for all the things he has done for the 50, 100 players, coaches and people who have been through Vardar all these years. Then, after Cologne, it was said that Samsonenko would be helped to keep the club as it is. He said “well, I’m staying if you support us, we want a third Champions League title.” That way we all stayed at the club, to wait for the stabilization and the guys who were supposed to come at the start of the season. It was said that everything would be settled in a month. The man who wanted to leave the club now has to take on other people’s promises. He didn’t have that money and he’s gone now. To save us, because he knows we have families and careers, and he has great respect for what we did, at the last meeting he said “I know what they told me, they promised, but I have a great respect and will cover all the expenses. I don’t know when, but I’ll try it by the end of the season. I can’t believe it because people tell us all the time, we’ll give, we’ll give, and there’s nothing. How can I make promises to someone else? “
He said that at a meeting a few weeks ago?
- That’s right. Now he moves negatively on him because he makes no statements. And how much more to seek public support. How many times? Do you even need to look for it when you have produced such results? We understand him, we have a great respect for him, but political games, his business, all that, we as players should not depend on it all. We have our careers. At the moment there is not enough of us for serious training and quality work. We are where we are, fighting. People who understand handball know what is happening to us. The motivation and training process is the basis of everything.
- Uncharacteristically for Vardar, you are led by a third coach this season, after Pisonero and Koksharov, Alusovsky arrived…
- No wonder, it’s simply connected to everything that’s going on at the club. When you see a six-to-seven-year upward trend and when the results go up, everything is good. Pisonero did not have a team that Raul and Parondo had. After that, Koksharov came into a situation where Cupic and Dibirov had to play back-line, and not quite some of them, everyone knew that we were in for a catastrophe. When you lose five games with 10 differences, it’s normal for a man to take responsibility and take it upon himself. The new trainer, trying to animate us, did it against the Engine. If the club were stable, everything would be different. The composition of the players would be a better and more complete staff, all different. This is how you improvise, trying to save the season by any means is very difficult. Now on Tuesday when we came to training, we realized that Gorbok and Kalarash were sick. We couldn’t make up, so we played football. Five players. You can’t play handball with fitness and gym. I respect everyone, but we take goalkeepers from the other team, talented, to fill in numbers or kids to just stand on defense, who hardly ever watched live handball. That’s the problem, that’s been the case since September 1st. When we came from vacations and preparations, when we realized that everything was the same, that we were not paid for last season, everything was clear to us. We tried everything …
Your contract expiring next summer. What is next?
- It’s hard to talk about staying in Vardar. None of us know if the club will exist. We’re looking at options, offers from other clubs, myself and other players. It’s not how we want it, but how it has to be. We proved that money does not play when it comes to us, but a huge wish we had and a relationship with the club. We’ve been showing that for years. No man can, or does, try to object to us going to other clubs. Sport is not a charity. We have families that depend on us. We love the club, Macedonia, but we can’t work. We can, at some point, we showed last season and this season, but it can’t be that whole life. We want to play in teams that are ambitious…
You were close to finishing your career at Vardar …
- I don’t know, all the people thought it would be. If the club remained as it is, why not? The profession is that you are always packed with suitcases and ready to change. Career lasts 15, 20 years, you are not a doctor to treat your whole life. My handball trip takes another year, and each of us struggles to leave something behind, to make some ground for further life.
How long do you plan to play?
- I plan to play as much as my health allows, and I have the motivation to play lightly for another two or three seasons. It all depends on the ambitions of the club I’m in. I would like to play in a team that has some high goal, that is important to me as an athlete.
You have scored 884 goals in the EHF Champions League and are in the fourth place in the eternal goalscorer list. Does the club have to be part of an elite competition and is there an ambition to reach the figure of 1000?
- I would love to continue playing in the Champions League, but for me the club is more than a statistic, an individual result. My career lasts a long time, I know the down phases of Kiel, Veszprem, Rhein Neckar Lowen, but these are big clubs. The name of the club is very important to me, whether it is up or down at the moment, but that it has a history and represents something in our sport. Barcelona, Kil, Veszprém, Peak Szeged, Kielce, Flensburg, RNL, these are the names that will always be names. Of course, there is Vardar. Vardar will always be an institution. Every player would love to play in such clubs. I believed that in these seven years we have done something that will provide the next 20-30 years to Vardar, but I do not see people in the state who want to see this club at the top, to remain the pride of this country and people. If it were different, they would help solve this situation. I was at Bubamara yesterday – an award-giving event. Your colleagues at TV Arena Sport came out next to us. Twice that night, 8,000 people were on their feet and applauding. For a Macedonian film that was nominated for an Oscar and when we took the stage. You can see how much people love Vardar and respect what we did and that is why I can no longer believe that we are put in such a situation. This club can do without Sterbik, Cindric, Karacic, Stoilov and Dibirovo, this club can do without any of us. It can do without everyone, but it must exist! There are 60.70 years, I can’t understand how they leave him like that – Timur Dibirov was emotional at the end of the talk for Balkan-Handball.com.