7m | Petar Nenadic: ''The real season always starts in April''

Petar Nenadic

There are a lot of great things Petar Nenadic managed to achieve throughout his incredible career. The 36-year-old Serbian playmaker is with his specific style slowly but steadily erasing borders between handball and magic.

Reigning SEHA – Gazprom League champions Telekom Veszprem started the season with a triumph on SEHA Final 4 back in September in Zadar. Lately they managed to secure the second title of the season, winning the Hungarian Cup in April. However, the most important six weeks of the season are still ahead of them where they will fight for EHF Champions League FINAL4 versus Danish Aalborg, while at the same time trying to come out on top in Hungarian play-offs defeating eternal rivals Pick Szeged. Ever since Nenadic arrived in Veszprem back in January of 2018, the biggest dream of not only the club, but the entire city has been to go all the way in the EHF Champions League. Hungarians are looking really well once again and the question is – has the time finally arrived?

Petar, how satisfied are you with the season so far?
I feel like I can say so far – so good. We’ve made some important steps already, but the most important weeks are still ahead of us. We simply can’t afford to make mistakes by mid-June. Two matches against Aalborg and final against Szeged will decide everything. We’re in good form at the moment and the goal is to keep it up. The main focus is obviously on Danes at the moment, confidence levels are quite high within the team after two victories against Szeged in 10 days and now it’s time to deliver our best.

You have already managed to win the EHF Cup and IHF Super Globe tournament with Füchse Berlin. You’ve also taken the top-scorer title in the German Bundesliga, silver at 2012 EHF EURO in Serbia as well as two SEHA – Gazprom League trophies. You are, however, still missing EHF Champions League trophy. Do you feel the pressure if we take into consideration that you are in the last stage of your playing career?
I don’t like to think that way. In case it is written somewhere that I’ll manage to achieve it – it will happen. I really want that trophy, career is simply not the same with and without it. I lose 2019 final versus Vardar. Right now we are focused on playing best we possibly can. We’ve had a tough group and now we’re one step away from Cologne. The situation is looking quite good and there are six more matches left ahead of us this season in which we have to deliver our absolute best.

What do you consider your biggest achievement in your career?
Tough question for me at the moment. I never think about my career that way. There are a lot of matches, schedule, we’re dealing with is crazy and it is not really giving us a lot of time to think about the past. That 2012 when we managed to win silver medal in front of 20,000 fans on EHF EURO was quite special. Winning IHF Super Globe was also amazing, then the moment when I signed with Barcelona at only 20 years of age, arrival in Veszprem. It is impossible for me to pinpoint only one moment and say ‘that’s the one’. Every step is special, there were really many both nice and tough moments.

You’ve really had the opportunity to work with some of the best coaches throughout your career like Sigurdsson, Richardson, Cadenas, Davis. Now you are, for the first time ever, working with your former teammate, friend and compatriot Momir Ilic. What was the transition like from you two being teammates and friends to the situation you’re in now?
Momir know very well what is it he wants from every single player. He is focused on the result 24 hours a day. It was of course a bit strange in the beginning, but we were both aware that we’ll have to get used to it in order to achieve best possible results. We are both really passionate about what we’re doing. I told him just the other day that I feel like he’s doing a really good job in what is his rookie coaching season basically, leading one of the best teams in Europe. And I think I’m right. Of course, as I said, this last month and a half will give us the final verdict. I believe Momir is really adapting to the situation, mixing all coaching styles which influenced him as a player. Hopefully we’ll be the best when it matters the most.

Will Veszprem be the last station of your playing career?
I have no idea. My first and only goal is to enjoy everything for as long as I can. It is hard to plan anything these days. I’m not really thinking about what I will do once I retire. It is obviously logical to stay closely connected to handball but who knows. In case you want to stay on the top you have to work constantly, be fully focused on everything around you.

One of the most special nights of not only your career, but life in general happened in January of 2013. You were with the national team on WCh in Spain when you got a son. Will family Nenadic get a third generation of handball players as we know both your father and uncle used to play handball before you and your brother Drasko became professionals.
He is nine years old and interested in many sports. He likes judo, basketball and handball. It will definitely be his choice. Of course, my wife, myself, grandpa, uncle – we’ll all help him with advices but the decision will be on him.

What do you think about SEHA – Gazprom League?
I feel like it is a very useful project for younger players aged 18 – 24. It is also important for teams that are lacking competitive matches in national leagues. There is a strong need for such a project and I hope it will continue.