SportFrance-Germany at the World Handball Championship: Nikola Karabatich, "Expert" again

France-Germany at the World Handball Championship: Nikola Karabatich, “Expert” again

Tireless, insatiable, timeless… He has probably won everything – a three-time Olympic champion (2008, 2012 and 2021), four times in the world (2009, 2011, 2015 and 2017) and three times in Europe (2006, 2010 and 2014) – at 38 years old, including 21 years with the French national team, Nikola Karabatich continues to stretch the brackets opened on November 2, 2002. Always with the same desire, always with the same pleasure. The last survivor of the generation of “Experts” (2009-2017) who tormented European, World and Olympic handball, he lives, in Poland and Sweden, in his 25th tournament, in his 10th world championship, in this blue jersey, which he cherishes so much. many.

In this group, rejuvenated after the Olympic title in Tokyo in 2021 and the retirement of Mikael Guigu and Luc Abalo, two other survivors of this golden age, “Kara” inherited the honorary title of dean. It must be said that his tricolor experience (1277 goals in 343 matches or 3.72 goals per game), as well as his colossal record, are unmatched among French personnel.

“Exceptional Big Brother”

“I don’t have a special role”, likes to remember the eldest of the Karabatic brothers, thereby relativizing the importance that his rich past in the French national team gives him. However, when the microphone is held in the French dressing room, the contribution of the PSG left-back is undeniable. He “voice of the wise”Judge Luca, his younger brother, became captain of the Blues in the fall. “For the younger generation to be able to benefit from his experience, from the investments he is still making after winning everything and in many cases, that can only be a driving force.” “He’s very important to this group, he’s been their guide for years.”assures Guillaume Gilles, who was one of his teammates before he became his coach.

“By his example, his leadership, he very quickly shows all young people how the workshop works. Niko is an exemplary machine, unique in its ability to recover from injuries, to the last, to be in all battles.he insists, admiring the native of Niš in Serbia (former Yugoslavia) who “played every three days for 20 years”. “You have to understand what this means for an athlete who has been playing for the biggest clubs in the world for over 20 years. So it’s something absolutely phenomenal! (…) He brings all his experience, his habit of important events, his way of experiencing moments of rivalry and tension. He has the mentality of an absolute competitor, but also the ability to take others on board with him. This makes him an exceptional big brother. He has all the facets of a modern leader.”

Nikola Karabatich puts his experience at the service of a new generation. – FRANK FIFE / AFP

Silent and reserved in public, Nikola Karabatich embodies the role perfectly. “big Brother” in contact with the new generation symbolized by Thibault Brie, 23 brushes in total. “He’s here to support us, never rips off the cover, always says the right words at the right time”according to Nedim Remily, his Blues teammate and former PSG teammate. “He is a simple man, he doesn’t talk much, but he has a special aura”explained Peace Aymeric Minn, injured with an ankle and absent from the World Championships. “When I started, he came up to me so as not to worry that he was sure that I would put on a good match, and that encouraged me!” “This is an example for us, the culmination of hard work”pointed out Carl Conan, who also withdrew from the tournament due to a broken foot. “And he still has good leftovers, he’s still at the top.”

Ready to go to Paris 2024?

From “beautiful leftovers” which he cares a lot about. “I’m just trying to play on the field already, and the older you get, the closer you get to the end of your career, the harder it is to stay competitive and play as well as the youth.”, admits however the veteran. But if he plays less to save himself after repeated injuries, Niko has something more than others. It has victory. Thanks to his talent and state of mind, he can change the situation at any time.

The help he intends to give again to Germany in the quarter-finals, on Wednesday, January 25 (at 20:20 to follow live on TFX), the same opponent that started the “Experts” epic in 2007. And whatever the outcome, he promises, the time has not yet come for the Blues to say goodbye. “This should not be my last match for France, there will be others”he assured in the comments passed Command. “The fact that this is my last World Championship is not really exceptional, because I have the opportunity to participate in the European Championship. (in 2024, ed.) and maybe the Olympics. The Olympic Games, which will be held at his home in Paris, in 2024. For perhaps, we hope, the ending is apotheosis.


Johan ROBLIN


Source: TF1

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