7m - Cervar: “A team is the strongest player“

Lino Cervar

The most accolated Croatian handball coach, Olympic and World champion that has been living for handball for the past half a century: Lino Cevar is currently the head coach of the Croatian national team, as well as handball club Metalurg. Cervar has greatly contributed to handball in Croatia and Macedonia.

Handball is a team sport, and every individual needs to be engaged in order to achieve the common goal. Togetherness is the word that is always on Cervar’s mind. "We have been taught that individuals mean everything, but that is not true. A team is the strongest player. Support needs to be earned with discipline and commitment. I will strive for competence and I want the team to be optimistic and dedicated to the national jersey.

By profession, Lino Cervar is a Croatian language teacher. His coaching career commenced in 1974 in a handball club Triko from Novigrad. He also has experience on the handball courts in Austria and Italy, where he worked as a coach. Due to the national team commitments, he is currently on a break from the Macedonian Metalurg. That is why his assistant Aleksandar Jovic is going to temporarily take over the young Metalurg squad in Champions League, SEHA Gazprom League and domestic competitions.

The first time Cervar found himself as the Croatian national team head coach was in 2002, after Croatia came last at the European Championship. His era lasted until 2010; during that time he helped to raise many different generations of successful sportsmen. For the duration of his time in charge, Croatia won a great deal of medals, including two golds and four silvers.

"I insist on developing the sense of belonging to the team, but also the team to an individual. A team will make a player great. Some of them were on top of Europe, but they don’t act as superstars. I have always like humbled winners and I would like my players to conduct in that manner. I believe that is why we will enjoy an unbelievable support from the fans and I think we can justify their support and trust."

In only one year, Cervar led the team to the top of the world. In other words, Croatia won the gold medal at the 2003 World Championship. The same success was repeated a year later in Athens, when they became the Olympic champions. During Cervar's reign, Croatian team was also the vice-champion of the world in 2005 and 2009. At the European championship they came second in 2008 and 2010.

A desire to win, to prove himself and succeed once again has always been important for this versatile coach. That is why he accepted the offer from the Croatian Handball Federation, temporarily came back from Macedonia and for the second time in his career took over as the Croatian national team head coach. 

We already know that Croatia host the next European Championsip from the 12th until the 28th of January in 2018. "Our goal is to fight for a good result and a medal, but not everyone can do that. To achieve our aim we need players that can deal with the pressure and those who can give up some comfort and pleasure to benefit the team. We need to make a real team and that is the tactical approach we want to go with right from the beginning.

Cervar’s players will play two friendly matches against Slovenia in the preparations for the EURO. The first match is scheduled for the 26th of October in Ljubljana and the second one is on the October 28th in Zagreb. "Two matches against Slovenia will indicate where we stand at the moment. Those two games are extremely important for me, as I can see how far the players can go to achieve both mine and the common requests. That is going to be a test to see what kind of a message the players are giving to me, and how ready they are to achieve their goals."