7M | Stipe Mandalinic: ‘I believe people still haven’t seen the best of me!’

Stipe Mandalinic

Guest of our newest 7M interview is one of the most dangerous backs in SEHA – Gazprom League and one of the leaders of his Eurofarm Pelister team – Stipe Mandalinic. We’ve talked to Stipe about his beginnings, growing up with SEHA – Gazprom League, life in Bitola and plans for the future. It’s time to meet Stipe Mandalinic.
Growing up in Split, how come you’ve decided for handball?
I’ve tried a lot of things, just like most of the kids. First, there was swimming, then water-polo, football and basketball. At 11 years of age, I’ve stepped on the handball court for the first time. I started as a goalkeeper, then tried myself as a line player basically circling the court in order to find the position which suits me the best until I found myself as a left back.
Was your signature jump shot there from the very beginnings?
Yeah, that jump shot was basically my greatest strength from the moment I stepped on the handball court. Here I have to take some time to thank my coach Bosko Balic who was there for me from the beginning and was probably the key to my development from the early days.
At only 17 years of age, you decided to leave Split and continue your career in Karlovac. What was that like?
I really wanted a new challenge and it turns out I’ve made a great move joining Karlovac. I feel like I’ve learned a lot there, upgraded my game to a whole new level. It’s a peaceful, quiet, little town in which it is easy to focus and which has a really good handball school. In a matter of only a few years they’ve basically developed players like Sandro Obranovic, Luka Cindric and Vuko Borozan which speaks for itself.
After that it was time for Zagreb.
You simply don’t say ‘no’ to PPD Zagreb. That’s a great club with a great tradition and years I’ve spent there have really pointed my career in the right direction. When I arrived, there were some well-known names there already like brothers Valcic, I’ve worked with great coaches throughout those years developing myself as a player in the best possible way.
In 2013, Stipe also received a national team call up where he had a chance to meet his idol.
Blazenko Lackovic was basically my idol growing up. I remember having his poster in my room back in the day. Incredible experience meeting him both on and off the court. We’ve even shared a room and I remember him telling me to stop treating him with so much respect simply because we were teammates at the moment and it took me some time to finally relax around him. All the guys were really helpful and everything but meeting him was so special. Great player and a great person.
After three seasons in Füchse Berlin, in 2020 Stipe Mandalinic decided to come back to SEHA – Gazprom League continuing his career in Eurofarm Pelister.
I decided to come to Bitola and so far, I feel like I’ve made the right choice. It’s a peaceful city in which everyone is a huge fan of handball, of the club and its history. It’s a whole different mentality from the one they have in Germany, but I feel like we really have a great team. Defense is our biggest strength while there is still a lot to work on in attack. However, I feel like we are really a good team. We’ve managed to reach a really big point in Schaffhausen in the last round of EHF European League proving that no one should even count us out, even when we’re trailing. We’re dealing with those bad periods in our game lately and that is definitely something we should improve.
You have a big SEHA experience. What do you think about the League and what it brings to its clubs?
SEHA – Gazprom League is a great thing, especially for younger players. You’re basically getting to play CL-level matches against opponents like Meshkov, Veszprem and Vardar. It was really useful for me back when I was still in PPD Zagreb and I like it now that I’m here in Eurofarm as well. Also, F4 tournament is looking better and better from year to year and it can easily be compared to the one in Cologne.
Plans for the future?
My goal is to play at the highest possible level for as long as possible. I like it here really but I have to be honest and say I’d like to go back to Germany one day because I still have a lot show there. I’ve dealt with some serious injuries in Füchse and I feel like that slowed me down making it hard for me to show what I’m capable of. I believe people there still haven’t seen the best of me.
What does Stipe like to do when he is away from the handball court?
I’m spending most of my free time with my wife and kids. We have a boy and a girl now and they are my whole world. We like to explore the nature around here, which is really great, together, have picnics. I also like to play tennis with some of my teammates. Oh, and PlayStation of course. I often play ‘Call of duty: Warzone’ online with other handball players. I’m not going to name them this time, but I can say they are really good both in handball and Call of duty.