László Nagy: “We do not want to make the same mistake”
Few players know as much about Handball at the highest level than László Nagy, who will make his 250th appearance in European Cup competitions on Sunday afternoon as Telekom Veszprém take on Sporting CP in the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16.
The Hungarian right back has been through glorious and tough times in his career, including last year’s disappointing defeat against Skjern in the Last 16, but he insists it is always the next challenge he focuses on.
ehfCL.com: This will be your 250th match in European Cup competitions. How do you look back on the previous challenges and the successes achieved so far?
László Nagy: I did not count the number of the matches I played, so this milestone comes to me as a surprise. Obviously, I have quite a few years, kilometres and shots behind me. I played my first EHF Cup game in 1997, while I debuted in the Champions League in 2000, so I have been playing on the highest level for nearly 19 years. Indeed, 250 games indicate that I have been around for a pretty long time.
ehfCL.com: Since your debut, you have experienced a lot with three different teams. Which were your sweetest moments at each club?
László Nagy: In Szeged, it was my debut on the European stage against PSG, of course, while I achieved my biggest successes in the EHF Champions League with Barcelona without a doubt. But let us not forget that with Veszprém we reached Cologne four times in the past six years and played two finals. Although we could not lift the trophy, it was a memorable achievement.
ehfCL.com: Which were the biggest challenges for you throughout your career?
László Nagy: It was always the next cup or championship title we were fighting for that challenged me the most. I would not differentiate the competitions because each one of them was difficult to win. In the Champions League, it is even getting harder to win, because the international field of clubs is more and more balanced each year and the rhythm of the game has changed as well. Handball has become more dynamic and physical throughout the years.
ehfCL.com: The match against Sporting will also be your 100th European match for Veszprém. How does the team fare under the new coach, David Davis, who only arrived in the fall of 2018?
László Nagy: If we look at our performances this season, I think we did well, and the future seems positive and encouraging for the team. We need to forget about the slip up against Szeged last weekend and concentrate on correcting the mistakes and showing our Champions League form. Sporting will play the first Last 16 game in the club’s history, so they will be motivated, just like us. Last year we were not concentrated enough against Skjern and they eliminated us at this stage of the competition. We do not want to make the same mistake this time.
ehfCL.com: Can the bad memory of that loss have a negative effect on the team’s performance?
László Nagy: I think it will rather have a positive effect. I think everyone will be focusing on achieving victory, just like in our previous games.
ehfCL.com: What are the goals for this season?
László Nagy: The same as every year. A team like Veszprém will always think about winning each competition they enter. We would like to take back the Hungarian championship title and win the domestic cup again, while in the Champions League we would like to reach Cologne.
ehfCL.com: You are one of the most defining figures in Hungarian Handball, how do you see the nation’s youth development and who could be the “next László Nagy”?
László Nagy: I am hopeful that there will be a future László Nagy and a future Anita Görbicz. I have more and more insight into the youth development in Veszprém and I think they do a really good job, while I also know that other Hungarian clubs have very good youth teams as well. They just need to keep working and keep helping those young talents to reach their potential, so one day they can become important members of the Hungarian national team.
ehfCL.com: What would you advise young people who are just getting to know the sport?
László Nagy: If they choose Handball, first they will need to have a purpose, which they can reach with determined, humble work. A gold medal never comes easy, they will have to train hard every day for it.
ehfCL.com: What are your plans for the next year or two?
László Nagy: I do not know yet. One thing is for sure, my contract will expire at the end of the season. Then I will talk to the club chiefs of Veszprém about the future. I will stay close to Handball, but it remains to be seen how or in which position I will manage to do that. I was honoured to be elected as a member of the board and I am happy to share my knowledge and use it to help the team.
TEXT: Bela Müller / cor