16.12.2013 12:04


This interview is taken over from the daily newspaper “Nova Makedonija”.

All of us will give every last piece of strength in order to achieve better placement on the European Championship in January, in Denmark, announced Renato Vugrinec, the new member of the Macedonian national team.

At the European Championship in 2012 in Serbia, Macedonia achieved her biggest success winning the 5-th position which was the biggest surprise of the championship. Now, the EURO -2014 challenge lies ahead the Macedonian players and the public is expecting that they will repeat the good placement. The Macedonian team additionally strengthened itself by the naturalization of Vugrinec from Metalurg, and the Serbian back player Nemanja Pribak from Vardar.

– It is obvious that the Macedonian Handball Association (MHA) and the professional staff of the national team have certain ambitions for this European Championship, and I believe that the naturalization of two players tells a lot about what it is expected of us as a national team. But, I must say that this time it will not be easy to succeed as we did two years ago, because the Macedonian players then practically played as if they were at home, and the audience was their motivation and the ninth player. Now, we are not going to be complete from that aspect but all of us will give their last atom of strength to achieve better placement – said Vugrinec.

The matches of the national team differ from those of the club’s; they bear a certain burden and importance because they represent the whole nation.

– I have played out 187 matches for Slovenia, but for three years I have not been part of the big tournaments, such as the European Championships, the World Championships, and the Olympic Games. I am honoured and it means a lot to me the fact that the Macedonian Handball Association (MHA) invited me to become the member of the Macedonian national team because they still see a great potential in me, and they believe that I can help the team on the position of the extraordinary Kiril Lazarov, the only Macedonian player who built a brilliant international career. I am glad that I can be of great help to him and also to the other players, because these matches are something else, here you play for a nation that appreciates and supports you. That is why I eagerly accepted the offer for the Macedonian citizenship – says the left-handed shooter.

This idea of acquiring the Macedonian citizenship is not something new and out of the sudden.

– I received this offer six months ago, and at first I did not take it seriously because I thought that it was some kind of a joke. But further, after several serious conversations, I saw that it was a serious offer that needs to be considered. When a country offers you the citizenship, it is a great honour which you must justify. I sat and talked with my family whether this was good for me, if I would be of help to the Macedonian national team, and that step would mean a great responsibility both for me and for my family – said the left-handed shooter from Metalurg.

During his international career, Vugrinec have played in many different clubs and in different areas (Slovenia, Germany, Spain, Macedonia), but here in Macedonia the amazing audience in “Boris Trajkovski” Arena left him a huge impression.

– I cannot describe how I am amazed by the Macedonian audience. Here you have their passionate and whole-hearted support. The audience empathizes with each victory and each defeat. For example, in Germany, this is not the case. It is true that there is a great attendance on the matches, but the audience acts as if they are watching the end of a movie, without emotions or even passion. They just eat popcorns or sandwiches, and if you ask them which team won the match or what happened, they do not know. Here it is completely different. The Macedonian audience understands handball and they know exactly who showed excellent game, who was good, and who was bad. The audience in “Boris Trajkovski” Arena gives me additional energy and motivation to be even better – says the naturalized Macedonian from Slovenia who despite the fact that he knows Macedonian, he is fluent in English, German and Spanish, and he knows a little bit of Arabic.

Watching Renato Vugrinec and his game on the court along with his young-looking appearance, no one would have imagined that he is 38 years old. He is a man who has a big sports and life experience, and he sees every new match as something new and as a chance to do something, and also to learn something of it.

– When I was 22-23, I thought that it would be good if I played until I was 30, but now I am 28 and I am still eager to play and to win. Handball is my life, my profession, my driving force, and the only thing that I do with all my heart and soul. I hope that after I finish my career I would be again preoccupied with handball, but on the other side, for example as a coach or something similar. Through my long career, I have seen and learned a lot about the handball and in future I would like to share that experience with the young – said Vugrinec who hopes that the IHF would allow playing for the Macedonian national team.

The acceptance of the Macedonian citizenship means that Vugrinec has another extra option. This is an opportunity for him and his family to stay and work in Macedonia after the end of his career.

– One of the reasons I have accepted the Macedonian citizenship is that I like the lifestyle and the people here in Macedonia. My family and I were considering staying here after the end of my career. Macedonia and Skopje offer excellent living conditions both for the young and the adults. So far, this has been the only place where it is economically worth to live. I like the fact that despite the economic crisis the people go out for a coffee, laugh, and act positively, where on the other hand, this is not the case in Slovenia. Surprisingly, my children fitted quickly in this environment. Two of them are in kindergarten, and my oldest daughter (who is nine years old) goes to a school where she learns both in Macedonian and English – says Vugrinec who added that his family loves the Macedonian cuisine, especially the barbeque, the homemade dishes and the irreplaceable gravche-tavche.

Renato Vugrinec had many successes in his career. He won the Champions League in 2004 with Celje; in the same year Slovenia won the silver medal on the European Championship, and he was on the Olympic Games two times (2000, 2004).

– There is no any special recipe to succeed and to play well, at least according to me. It all comes down to the situation at the moment, the inspiration, and the luck, i.e. the way you feel on the match. The team can be perfect in the preparations, it can function as good as a Swiss watch, but it not always turns right on the court. I do not know, maybe I am wrong, but when I played in Celje, in Slovenia, we more or less practiced equally as we do now in Metalurg. Still, I believe that you need to know how to use the right moment at the right time – explains Vugrinec.

By Tanja Dimitrioska.


Personal ID

Date of birth: June 9, 1975.

Birthplace: Ptuj, Slovenia.

Height: 196 cm.

Weight: 101 kg.

Position: Left back player.

Career: Celje, Slovenia (1997-2004, 2009-2010), Magdeburg, Germany (2004-2006), San Antonio, Spain (2006-2009), Al Sadd Doha, Qatar (2010-2011), Hamburg, Germany (2011-2012), Maribor, Slovenia (2012), Metalurg, Macedonia (2012-).

National Team: He played 187 matches for Slovenia, and scored 616 goals.

Biggest success: He won the title in the Champions League with Celje (2004), and the silver medal on the European Championship with the Slovenian national team (2004).


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