Victor Tomas: “Barça are the team to beat”
Barça have been crowned kings of Europe more than any other club, winning the title eight times and this weekend they will be the first team to reach 300 matches played in the competition.
On that long and successful trajectory, there is a man who has his name among a number of the club’s records.
Captain Victor Tomas has played the most matches, the match against Elverum will be his 206th, and has scored 683 goals. Far from thinking that the end is near, he just wants to keep adding to the records.
The Spanish right wing speaks to ehfCL.com to look back at his and Barça’s journeys in Europe.
ehfCL.com: Barça have played 299 matches at EHF Champions League with a balance of 222 wins (74%), 57 defeats and 20 draws. What do these numbers say to you?
Victor Tomas: These numbers are great and speak for themselves. It is a consequence of a good job and shows that Barça did things well for a number of years, something very difficult for the club to do with maximum pressure and demand. It is difficult to work they way we do and to develop the style of play we did.
ehfCL.com: What do you think Barça means to the rest of Europe?
Victor Tomas: Barça is the team to beat. When Barça goes to any arena, it is their match of the year. We have won this respect with the history and trajectory of the club.
ehfCL.com: Barça played their first match in the EHF Champions League in the 1995/96 season with players on the team such as Barrufet, O’Callaghan, Xepkin, Urdangarin. Talk to us about this team.
Victor Tomas: It was the dream team- An unforgettable team for Barça supporters and also for handball fans. They hooked me to handball.
ehfCL.com: And they won five titles in a row.
Victor Tomas: Really, they were a super team. They started to play different handball, with another rhythm. They were the first to have a lot of success with the 5:1 defence and they achieved a lot.
ehfCL.com: Since 2000, Barça have won just three further titles (2005, 2011 and 2015). Should the club have won more?
Victor Tomas: We could have earned some other titles, but we must be mindful that our opponents also play. We must continue fighting to be in Cologne again and to win again.
ehfCL.com: We talked about the ‘Dream Team,’ do you think the current Barça team could be a reference like that one in the future?
Victor Tomas: That team marked an era. Now it is unthinkable to win the competition five times in a row. There are players who will be inspired by us and what we do, but it would be impossible to do something like the dream team. At that moment, the level was very high, but now there is a wide range of teams who can be champions.
ehfCL.com: How has handball changed since the 1990s?
Victor Tomas: Tactics are richer than in the nineties. Physically, handball is more demanding. Currently, to play at this level you must be very good physically and be at a good level on both ends of the court.
ehfCL.com: As captain, you lifted the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy once in 2015. How do you remember that moment?
Victor Tomas: It was awesome. Danijel Saric, who is a very good friend of mine, was talking throughout the ceremony about how important this moment is for me. For a Barça fan, to have the honour and privilege to lift this trophy for the club of your life. There are no words to describe it.
ehfCL.com: You won one as a captain, but three overall (2005, 2011 and 2015). One win at Palau Blaugrana and two in Cologne. Did you prefer to win at home or in Cologne?
Victor Tomas: At Palau or Cologne, they are both special. The EHF FINAL4 format is very nice, it is positive for handball as a product, but the opportunity to win at home in front of your supporters and your family is very special.
ehfCL.com: And when will the next title arrive?
Victor Tomas: Hopefully this will be the year, but I never promise titles. I can promise effort, work and sacrifice. I can understand people’s disappointment last year, but I only can assure them that the team left everything on the court, even when we played badly. This year we have extra pressure to win.
ehfCL.com: You made your debut at this level in the 2003/04 season. Now, 16 years later, the match against Elverum will be your 206th.
Victor Tomas: Wow. It is good to know this data because days and years are happening and you are not conscious about how many games you played. I hope to play many more.
ehfCL.com: You are also the top scorer with 683 goals.
Victor Tomas: It could be more, you can always do better. I am happy to achieve these numbers in a club like Barça and to keep playing at the level I am at.
ehfCL.com: You have received 51 two-minute suspensions but have never seen a red card.
Victor Tomas: Yes, it is true. I do not remember being sent off in the EHF Champions League. This can prove one of two things: either I am a fair player or referees have more “respect” for all the seasons I have been here.
ehfCL.com: You have established all of Barça’s records.
Victor Tomas: I have goose bumps. I love coming to training every day, to see the team we have. I am enjoying it more than ever. I am proud and happy about all I have done, but I always think about the future.
ehfCL.com: Your contract expires at the end of the season but you will extend it, until when? Have you thought about your farewell?
Victor Tomas: One thing is what I want and what will happen could be another thing. I understand where I am and probably one day the interests of the club and myself will be different.
I would like to play this season and three seasons more, until June 2023, but I do not know. I feel very good physically, in full conditions, also psychologically. People think I am older than I actually am. I am 34 and some players play until 38 or 39.
ehfCL.com: So, more work ahead for your dad, who takes care of your statistics, right?
Victor Tomas: Yes, but I did not ask him to, he has been doing it voluntarily. Since my debut with the first team, my father collects everything such as goals and titles. I am lucky to have my parents, I am very grateful for everything they do and did, the many kilometres travelled to allow me to play handball.
TEXT: Laia Coll / cor