King of the team of the handball, human among humans - Kiril Lazarov
“When I heard the doctor saying - “Lazarov’s heart is in excellent condition” - I was sure that I reached the goal on which I had spent 22 years of my life, that my future home was the Palau Blaugrana”...
“If any human being’s secret is not in living but knowing why they live, my answer is one and only - I live for handball.”
“If any human being’s secret is not in living but knowing why they live, my answer is one and only - I live for handball.”
“I have my own small world and a Chinese Wall around it. I know very well how it feels to be divided between family and the people.”
It is said that a river gets its features depending on the environment in which it flows, and the man from the area and climate in which he was born - HE was born as the first male child in the family of Milka and Blagoj Lazarov ... the king of the team handball, a human among humans ... Kiril Lazarov. A personality and a name that generates indispensable respect. Thirty three years of life, 33 trophies! The Macedonian sport is identified by his name. The best goal-scorer on the planet. The owner of the greatest number of goals in the world. Believes in God and before every game he crosses himself for luck. The same is with his ritual of dressing before each game which has never changed ...he first puts his right sock on and the right sneaker, and then the left ones. He believes in himself and every time he comes out to the court the victory is his imperative. You do not need a special occasion, provocation, an important moment to meet Kire. The only thing that you need is for Kire to find some spare time. And, as always, he is straightforward, honest and immeasurably witty. A source of energy which does not dry up, does not disappear, but outbreaks, increases every day. Anyhow, we had motivation for this particular meeting. Its focal point is the number SEVEN... and the new 77 of the giant Barcelona-Intersport. Number 7 in Christianity is related to seven angels, seven stars, 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. Ourt historical Seven belongs to Kire. Numerically, seven is a perfect union of the bodily and spiritually, and there is nothing in the world that is accidental, from nowhere. We express the greatness of our number SEVEN with the name of Kiril Lazarov. ..Kire is great because he is simple, and one grows to simplicity. Kire has grown up in these 22 to 23 years, into a player who has never set missions impossible in front of him. His name is the strongest example how sport is loved and respected. When years and centuries pass, he will have the highest place at the pedestal of the Macedonian sport history, the world sports records. The Macedonian and the planetary handball virtuoso.
Author: Anita Daeva
Mr. Lazarov, Since 7 June, the handball empire Barcelona has had the left-handed “bomber” from Macedonia. Barcelona, a dream of every athlete, a place where Catalonia encounters the Mediterranean shore. Did it take a lot of time for you to accept the offer?
Lazarov:Being sufficiently brave for a new start is a success. Barcelona is the city which I have been yearning for ever since my childhood, I have always wanted to live there and in the following 2 years I will have an opportunity to watch the Sun waking the most powerful sport metropolis in the world. I had an opportunity to leave to Barcelona even when I was a part of the Veszprém and Zagreb. I was longing for Barcelona with all my heart, and I believe and know that when you wish something with pure, sincere and unconditional love there are no obstacles to live the dream. This is a rule that applies to everyone on this planet, not only to me. And not only for the sport in which I am completely in. In recent years I had two offers from Barcelona, but it happened that I accepted the third one. I was considering the offer for the whole 15 minutes before I said “YES.” The conditions in my previous club Atlético Madrid may be the motivation plus for such a quick decision, in addition to the strong desire and my maturity to be a part of the best. The management of the club in Madrid gave me the green light to leave although I had a contract for another whole year with that club. On the other hand, the President delayed a meeting with my agent because he simply did not want to let me leave. But I waited, believed and got to it. In Barcelona, they pay attention to every detail, to every part of the complete mental and physical condition. The last health examinations were the key answers whether I should be the part of the club or not. Detailed examination of my every atom. “When I heard the doctor saying - “Lazarov’s heart is in excellent condition” - I was sure that I had reached the goal for which I had spent 22 years of my life, that my future home is the Palau Blaugrana... Barcelona is more than a club in which I will give my maximum effect.
It is a virtue to write a book when one is at the top. The road of thousand miles begins with the first step. Seven is your first book, it is an autobiography, but above all it is an opening of a soul. Why has Seven happened to you?
Lazarov: At the top... to some instance yes.... But I have never forgotten the paths I have treaded to come here, even when I was down, at the start. I will begin the answer to your question with the fact that anyone who knows to write can write a book. I have never been nor will I ever be a writer, and I do not want titles of the type ‘Kire became a writer’. NO. In the book, on page 77, I state, describe, the strongest moments of my existence in the last 2 years. Memories are always here to nourish the soul with the time left behind us, a reply to questions that have been put forward but never replied to the end. Emotions, days, events, victories, defeats... If in the past I failed to give a reply to some answers, you can find them in the book. The book was not written in a single stroke but in the manner in which pictures, events came to my mind, in the manner in which destiny has made each of my days. The days when out of happiness I felt I did not know what to do, the days when out of sorrow I felt like all the mountains had fallen on my breast. While I was writing it, while I was telling about a part of my feelings, I had them inside me again as they were at the time they happened. My father ... how much I wished him to see the day of my signing for Barcelona, how much I wished for it to happen and him to be the first one who I will call and make happy. I dedicate this book to my parents who were with me in better and worse, who have never questioned my decisions though I am a man who wants to hear other’s opinion, but the decisions were always mine. Seven is a start of the story that is just starting.
People who have a gift from God for what they do are rare. The well-known coach Žarko Zegmester who worked with you when you were in Croatia once told that you were born to score goals. Do you put an "equal” sign between talent and work, or does the balance of success always weighs towards work?
Lazarov: The essence of life is not to find yourself but to invent yourself.” I always have this sentence on my mind and I frequently say to myself that this was said for me (laughs)….But to what extent could I have thought about myself properly and “invented myself” at 10 when I started training handball hadn't I had the best teacher in life and handball there for me - my father. I remember, during my training, if my father, who was also my first coach, assigned me to make 10 press-ups I made 20, if he told me to shoot 30 times I did it twice as many. I have been with the ball since I was a toddler, at least I was told that by my parents, and in a family without children of the other genre besides me and my brother Filip, there were no other toys except balls. The hand ball is my life…and yes, I know that talent plays a role but I am much familiar with how much of myself I have given to become what I am now. It is in vain to be talented if you sit at home and expect to leave for the world tournament and make 92 goals. I have always set realistic goals to myself, which one could reach with persistent work, discipline and maximum commitment however unreachable they seemed at the point they were set. Constant proving of yourself with the best ones…you set a goal patiently and then you work on its accomplishment. You reach it, and then set another, even higher goal and work hard again, always like that. Sport is my highest goal, my skies the boundaries of which I am overcoming at my 33 years of age, and I know that I can do it better and higher. That is the reason that I have not found myself in handball rather than invented myself.
At 15, you were a part of European coups, at 17 you became the youngest national team player in the history. You have been the captain of the team for 13 years now, the best shooter at European coups of all times, the best shooter at world and European championships. You are one of rare athletes on the planet who have very few fouls and suspensions in so many years of playing. You are an exemplary athlete with exceptional sport culture. How have you succeeded to restrain in situations when injustice accelerates your heartbeat but it is the referee whose word, however wrong or perverse, is final?
Lazarov : Over the years, I have succeeded to cope with both injustice and anger very strongly. Such strong and such calmed anger!! That is also learned although it is not simple to control. If it runs out of control it can only lead to a situation that will later be damaging for them. I do not like confrontation. Anger always incites other anger. Restraining is my strength but I cannot answer how I manage to restrain from reacting in the manner in which players as well as fans often react when the referee is "wrong.” I always think that eventually, I will be the winner if only I managed to keep the focus on a specific situation. I always think that defeat does not exist, it is not there. One should only be focused, disciplined. On the other hand, the role of captain is not only to select the side on which you will start a game, it is to be a worth leader of the team, the co-players.
Beloved by fans, respected by rivals. Every coach wants to have you in their club. The Macedonian team handball is identified by your name. At your leaving, the fans of Atletico Madrid said that a part of their heart went off with you. Some rejoice at one’s success, some envy them. Envy is anywhere around us and people usually envy the best. Is it prevalent in the club family as well?
Lazarov: There has always been and there will always be the feeling of insisting on another’s happiness. I can’t understand people who do not occupy and dedicate themselves to their own desires, decisions and steps towards their implementation. Why should one envy another’s success in the team as well? Why should spend one’s time and mind on interests of the type who has signed up for what amount, why shouldn’t you rejoice if the replacement who has entered at your place has scored more goals? There must be no place in the “company” for such things that can disturb the balance and pollute the air on the field where we all have to breathe as one. You have mentioned the audience. What would athletes do without them? Any match without audience is only a mechanical thing, the audience is the soul of the game, of the atmosphere that may lead you when things are tough, it may awaken you when things go wrong and motivate you even more when the sports luck works on your behalf. The Macedonian audience, the Macedonian fans are the best. Many other people who have nothing in common with Macedonia have said this. I hope that we will hear the Phalanx in the 2014 European Men's Handball Championship in Denmark. No, I do not hope…I am 100 percent certain. Fans are able to recognise the player who gives himself in the field, sacrifices himself for every goal, gives assistance for any new victory regardless of the bad or the good day or regardless of what has been happening while he is playing.
Top athletes hardly find spare time to complete higher education. You are still a student of the Faculty of Physical Culture in Skopje. Which course year are you attending and how is studying going on?
Lazarov: Yes, I am a part-time student and in any case, I am a promising one. I am in the second year now and immediately after the match with Portugal I had an exam. I got 10 not only for my knowledge of the matter but because the professor had been impressed by the goal I gave right-handedly. I use my every homecoming to Macedonia to speed up “the clearance” of the exams and take year by year because I know that after handball there will be handball again. .It is not only sufficient that you acquire knowledge but to use it. When I say farewell to active playing, I will share my knowledge with everybody asking for a part of it.
The stars most often possess a dose of egoism in huge amount, which cannot be said of you. But we are all made of flesh and blood. How do you respond to disappointments and surprises?
Lazarov: Life and experience will strengthen you to a great extent. Earlier, I used to be disappointed by many things, I felt injustice as dreadful but now, I have “beneficial disappointing” years of service and there is no disappointment that can surprise me. I have learned how to surpass it with the speed of the light. Surprises…who does not like them? Most often, I am the one who surprises, and most often I surprise myself. Rarely can anybody surprise me because I can anticipate such situations, and I am not the one who can act surprise. Anyhow, beautiful things make me happy.
Lazarov: When you are famous and recognised, is it easy to get lost in that world to the extent that your mother could not recognise you whatsoever. But you tread firmly on the ground, aware of your grandeur. Are there times when popularity bothers you? I think you cope with it easily, or am I wrong?
Lazarov: I have my own small world and a Chinese Wall around it. I know very well how it feels to be divided between family and the people. I am ready and willing to carry my weight of the popularity anywhere and by myself. I do not want anything to disturb the peace of my family as a result of my game or reaction in a given situation. My family… they are only mine, and I am theirs. The holiest place for me is my home. Though I have been divided between the people and my family in a million of situations, and there were times, more than once, when I was distanced from my family in very important moments when they needed me to be their support and consolation. In 2008, I played a very important match with the national league when we had to help Macedonia, and my wife was in Zagreb, expecting to give birth to my little princess. I was in the field with my body and beside my Ljubica in the spirit. You play, score, and hope that everything is ok. One's greatness is in that, to withstand when it cannot be withstood, and show that you can when you have to do something. The though itself of the times when you have to split yourself between the people and the family is hard, when you have to understand that the people is your family and your family is the people; If I were able not to answer to any question about my family I would do that with pleasure..
Now, because we have opened this theme, I will ask you a question and it is up to you to answer it or not. Your wife Ljubica, daughter Lana and son Blagojce are your three cardinal directions. The fourth one is certainly handball. Are you a happy man, and how the children and your beloved wife, who is a doctor, handle living abroad?
Lazarov: I have been with Ljubica since 1997. We met in Bitola, I was a secondary school student, she was a university student, born two years before me. After everything we had together, it is clear to me that she is the woman of my life. Our offspring from that happy marriage are Lana and Blagojce. Our son was born in 2006, and the daughter in 2008, both in January. They are enjoying the best part of their life, childhood. Lana has inherited my temper and affinity for sport. She trains swimming and tennis and I hope that one day, she will be my sport pride. A few days ago, she was the winner of cross among 120 pupils at school. Blagojce has his mother’s genes, he is after science. In Spain, both attend a semi-state school. They speak Spanish perfectly and it can often happen when Ljubica and I speak in Spanish that they correct us and tell us how a sentence or a word should be said or spelled properly. They read and write in Latin. They do not know our Cyrillic script yet, but that is the next lesson we will take time for this summer so that they can read my book. Ljubica is a physician who had\s not had a day of service “owing” to my job and constant moving. But I promised her to open a private office for her one day, just for her study not to be in vain (laughs). When and where will it happen nobody knows? It is not easy with me. I am very demanding but also give a lot.
One’s roots always attract one to return home. Where everything started is the “She Boss,” as you call your mother. She is the one who is the happiest and rejoices most at meeting you. What is she required to prepare for you when you are in Sveti Nikole?
Lazarov: I have just talked about how some things remain inscribed in your memory. A part of it is my mother’s dishes. Sometimes, I smell the odour of the she-boss’s kitchen even when I am far from home. I love our cuisine but because of my professionalism and good shape I have to balance the food I intake. If I want to see something on the dining table when I am in my Ovce Pole region is home-made soup with a lot of vegetables, rizi-bizi with chicken and my mother's specialty, stuffed chitterlings. As a Taurus in the Zodiak, I am seen as a great gourmand.
From your neighbourhood in Sveti Nikole, you have reached great Barcelona. A lot of travelling, moving in, kilometres flown, years passed. Where do you often like “switching off” from the working daily life and spend days of relaxation?
Lazarov: Dubrovnik. That is the town I fell in love at first site. I love it so much that I have been there with my family every summer. I bought an apartment there and after a hard season, I enjoy the sky-blue colour and the scent of the Adriatic, history and warmth of the town. Croatia is always close to my heart because I spent a great part of my life there, and it was in this country that I had my greatest personal sport success. This summer again, let Dubrovnik wait for me.
When you come to an age when you’ll have to put an end to your professional career, what will you do, where will you spend the rest of your life? Do you feel financially free?
Lazarov: One is certain and I know that I will remain in handball. Where I will live afterwards, I cannot tell. I fantasise as everybody of us, but I never experience life as the main rehearsal but as a premiere without previous rehearsals, repetitions, calculations. My vision of future is to be by a beach, have coffee, read a book and work something that will fulfil me. Money has never been my preoccupation and if you ask me at the moment how much I have at my account, I do not know, I do not bother. I only know that we have enough for a normal life. It is nice to have it but only as a means for accomplishing higher ends. My higher end is known…to have 20 or 30 percent more strength for a free jump - shoot towards the goal. If any human being’s secret is not in living but knowing why they live, my answer is one and only - I live for handball.
FC Barcelona - Wisla Plock
Saturday 11.03.2017 20:00 h
THW Kiel – FC Barcelona Lassa 28:26 (16:15)
Victory was not forthcoming at the Sparkassen Arena but a two goal deficit for FC Barcelona Lassa handball team against Kiel (28:26) means the tie is still open ahead of the second leg in the Palau Blaugrana. To get to the Final Four in Cologne, Barça will have to turn things around at home.