7m | Dino Slavic: ‘’It all started when my first coach asked who doesn’t like to run a lot and wants to go stand between posts’’

Dino Slavic

PPD Zagreb have managed to significantly raise the quality of their outings in the second part of the season. One of the most important individuals in the process was without doubt 29-year-old goalkeeper Dino Slavic. We’ve talked to Slavic about his career path, PPD Zagreb’s form as well what he’s like away from the court so without further ado – let’s get into it.
What was the beginning of your handball journey like?
Well, it all started in Matulji. I decided to go to a local club’s training session with some of my friends and I liked it straight away. I still remember the coach asking who is not a big fan of running and all that so that he can find someone to go between posts. I volunteered and that’s how it all started.
After that you went to Zamet and then later in Umag.
I’ve spent 8 or 9 years in Zamet learning a lot from Valter Matosevic and Ivan Stevanovic. I guess I was really lucky, especially in those early years, when it comes to goalkeeper coaches as I also had the opportunity to work with Ljerka Krajnovic, one of the best handball goalies of her time back while I was still in Matulji. After that period in Zamet, I decided that it was time to change something and I went to Umag. We’ve had a really good team there and I was looking better and better those last few seasons in Zamet and then in Umag. I guess that’s what attracted Ademar Leon after all.
Dino then decided to make another big step in his career signing with Spanish Ademar Leon. What was Spain like?
I feel like that move was not only one big step but actually a few of them. Obviously, everything was new and different for me and it certainly wasn’t easy to adapt to all that right away. However, I think I did very well there from the beginning. When I arrived, we were playing EHF Champions League and later on we’ve played in EHF European League as well. I was once again lucky to have a chance to work with Manolo Cadenas who is really amazing at what he does.
Ademar Leon is well-known for its handball history and connection with the fans.
Absolutely, handball is No.1 sport over there and you can really feel that. Stands were always full no matter who we were playing against. From my perspective, I can say everything was really functioning on the highest possible level.
And how does SEHA – Gazprom League compare to that?
I can really say that Final Four tournament in Zadar looked amazing. Everything was functioning and looking really well. It’s a shame fans weren’t allowed in the playing hall to witness this great event and enjoy it with all of us, but in general I can say I really like everything about SEHA League.
PPD Zagreb managed to improve significantly in the second part of the season. What’s the reason behind that?
A lot of new players arrived during the summer and it always takes some time for everything to start functioning in the best possible way. Jakov Gojun and Zeljko Musa became two of our most important defensive players and getting the defense as well as goalkeepers to adapt to all the roster and tactical changes is never an easy job. Later on we were, however looking much better coming only inches away from reaching the EHF Champions League knockout phase which would have been an amazing accomplishment and a reward for all the hard work we’ve all put in during the season. There is always next year however and I believe this team can do a lot.
Goals for the season?
Obviously our main goal is to go for the double crown – Croatian both Championship and Cup. That loss in Nasice a few days ago surprised us a bit to be honest. It was a well-deserved win for Nexe in a match in which we were missing some of our key players. We now have a few matches to prepare for the home match against Nexe in which we will surely deliver a much better performance.
Are there any goalkeepers you used to look up to growing up as a goalie, maybe even trying to implement parts of their style into your own?
We always used to look up to all the Croatian national team and the local club’s goalkeepers as kids. If we’re talking about names, however there are three I have to mention and those are Dejan Peric, Venio Losert and Valter Matosevic.
What does Dino like to do when he is not on or around the handball court?
Schedule we’re dealing with is quite harsh actually which means we don’t really have much free time to be honest. When we do, I like to go to my hometown of Rijeka and spend some time with my family or girlfriend, a little bit of PlayStation or Netflix, hanging out with teammates. Usual stuff really.
Although you’re still playing really well, when we look at all the coaching names you’ve had the privilege to work with during your career, did you think about becoming a coach once your playing days are over?
I’d really like to remain closely connected to handball one day. My personal goal is to play for at least seven or eight more seasons. I signed a new one-year contract with PPD Zagreb, I can say I really like it here and that’s what I’m focused on at the moment. However, it would really be great to be able to transfer my knowledge and experience to younger generations one day.