Once a promising footballer, today one of the best pivots, not only in our League, but also on the European level. Marin Sipic, along with David Mandic and Zlatko Horvat, sovereignly led PPD Zagreb to securing their place at the SEHA final tournament.
'Little bear', as his teammates from the national team call him, started his handball story in his hometown of Split. Later he played for Varazdin 1930 and Nexe, where SEHA fans had the opportunity to see him on the big stage for the first time. Zagreb is now his home and we didn't miss an opportunity to ask him a few questions for the newest edition of our 7m interview. Is playing abroad something, he thinks about, what is it like to be the European vice-champion and much more, which he revealed in the following lines.
From Split, Varazdin and Nasice to Zagreb, a club that has dominated the Croatian handball scene for years now. The first season in the 'Lions' jersey is behind you, together with your teammates you managed to reach the SEHA – Gazprom League Final 4. How satisfied are you with the club's performance and your own?
I am very pleased with our performance this season. We have achieved most goals that we have set for ourselves. It's true that we didn't start very well, we were defeated a few times in a row, so we were slightly concerned how it would end. Luckily, we managed to get out of that situation, and reached the SEHA Final 4. Unfortunately, in the Champions League we have not gone further, with two matches literally deciding. When it comes to my own performances, I am happy with it. Of course, I am always striving to do better.
While still playing in Nexe last season, SEHA declared you the best line player in its fierce competition. How much does that mean to you?
Any recognition a sportsman gets, of course it means the world. In some way, it is a proof that all that effort and hard work pay off, all those hours we put into training, all the sweating, it is nice to get the recognition. It means a lot to us players because we see it as motivation to train harder and to never be completely satisfied with ourselves, but to want always more.
A magical January is behind you and Croatian national team. How do you feel when someone mentions this year's European Championship?
I get immediate goosebumps. No doubt that silver medal and that whole experience from January is the best part of my career, at this moment. What we have achieved, it was my dream, something I watched only on television. Although gold medal was unimaginably close, we were more than happy with that second place. That semi-final match against Norway was nerve-racking, the extra time, Zeljko Musa's goal and happiness when we realized we are in the finals – one of those moments I will not and do not want to ever forget.
Dalmatia, Slavonia or Zagreb and why?
The answer to this question, for me, is this simple - Dalmatia. Dalmatia is my homeland, Split is the city I was raised in, lived in, where my family is. In all other regions I have great experiences, cannot say one bad thing about any, but Split is Split and my family is my family.
Do you ever think it might be time to try yourself at a foreign club soon?
Of course, every athlete's goal is to see if they are ready for that next step, so I believe my time will come and I will go abroad one day. At the same time, I enjoy Zagreb, my contract still runs, so I don't think about foreign clubs that much.
Throughout your career, you had the opportunity to work with some of the best regional coaches, Horvat, Vujovic, Cervar... Whose approach do you prefer?
I don't think it is fair to single out anyone. Ever since I started my handball journey, I have been learning from many coaches and each has had his own vision how he wants to achieve the best possible result.
Who do you think is the best handball player of all time?
Short and to the point – Ivano Balic.
How were you spending these days without daily training, matches and traveling?
Somewhat every day looks the same. I have my morning coffee, then breakfast, after that lunch, some rest, training, of course. In the evenings, before dinner and sleeping, I usually chat and play games with my friends on camera. There are days when I walk a bit or train outside, hang out with my girlfriend...
A week ago, you turned 24 years old. The whole handball world already knows who Marin Sipic is, while you are only at the beginning of your career. Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
It is true, I've turned 24 years old on April 29. I am looking forward to play handball and hope that the next period will pass, preferably, without any serious injuries. Also, it would be nice receiving another medal with the national team.
Any message to all our handball friends at these times?
Stay home, stay safe, look after yourself and your loved ones. We all hope that this will be over soon, so that you can enjoy handball and stress out together with us and because of us.