Kiril Lazarov can write history on Friday: The Macedonian top star and current top scorer of the EHF EURO 2012 with 53 goals (in six matches) has got the chance to become the player with the most goals ever in a single Men’s EHF EURO event since 1994.
When hitting the back of the net more than five times in the 5/6 Placement Match on Friday against Slovenia, Lazarov will break the current record of Icelandic Olafur Stefansson, who became top scorer at the EHF EURO 2002 in Sweden with 58 goals (see list of all top scorers below).
If Lazarov reaches the new record, the Macedonian will become the first ever player in handball history to the ever top scorer of an EHF EURO event and a World Championship, too. At the World Championship 2009 in Croatia Lazarov scored 92 goals in ten matches and is the all time top scorer for a WCh event.
Lazarov was also top scorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League twice, including the 2007/08 season, when he shared the top position with Olafur Stefansson (each 96 goals), whose EHF EURO record he is willing to break on Friday.
In this interview with ehf-euro.com Kiril Lazarov talks about the importance of his goals, the Macedonian teamwork and the Olympic dream.
ehf-euro.com: FYR Macedonia is still in the race for the Olympic Qualification tournament. Does a dream come true for you?
Kiril Lazarov: Absolutely, it is our dream to go to London. To have come so far is a huge result for a small country. We hope that we can fulfil our dream against Slovenia. We will play another great match for our fans, we will fight for our country.
ehf-euro.com: Reaching the “Olympic qualification final” is the one thing, missing the semi-finals the other side of the page. Are you disappointed after being close to victories against Germany, Denmark and Spain?
Kiril Lazarov: No, because I think that in case we would have beaten Denmark, we would not have beaten Poland in the next game. Unfortunately this is Macedonian mentality.
ehf-euro.com: What were the keys of success until now?
Kiril Lazarov: To be at an EHF EURO event for the second time after 1998 is a real dream for us. We have no big names in our team. But we had a perfect preparation. Our federation gave us the chance to start the preparation on 21 December, and we have been playing together so many times since that the team has really improved. For ten or eleven years our current team has been well-rehearsed, we have perfect team work – and the team is not only the players, but also the coaches, the medical staff, the federation, all the people that work around us 24 hours every day.
ehf-euro.com: Concerning this team work: How important is your role as a top scorer for the team?
Kiril Lazarov: The number of goals I score is not important – it is all about the team. Look at the best player awards of our matches: In every game we had different awardees. The most important thing is that we are successful as a team.
ehf-euro.com: But with six more goals against Slovenia on Friday you can become all time record holder of goals at a single EHF EURO event and be the first ever to be crowned as top scorer of EURO and World Championships at the same time…
Kiril Lazarov: I am fit, I have no pain, and I will try to score those goals, not for me, but for my team mates, my country and the whole Macedonian handball. As without my colleagues I am nothing, they give power, they back me up.
ehf-euro.com: If you beat Slovenia you have the chance to qualify for the Olympic Games – another highlight for you?
Kiril Lazarov: Of course, we hope to qualify for London same as the Macedonian Basketball team has the same objective. To be part of the Olympics is great and I hope both of our teams go there.
Top scorers of all Men’s EHF EURO events
1994 in Portugal: Wassili Kudinow (Russia) 50 goals
1996 in Spain: Thomas Knorr (Germany) 41 goals
1998 in Italy: Jan Filip (Czech Republic) 48 goals
2000 in Croatia: Oleg Velyky (Ukraine) 46 goals
2002 in Sweden: Olafur Stefansson (Iceland) 58 goals
2004 in Slovenia: Mirza Dzomba (Croatia) 46 goals
2006 in Switzerland: Siarhei Rutenka (Slovenia) 51 goals
2008 in Norway: Ivano Balic (Croatia) 44 goals
2010 in Austria: Filip Jicha 53 goals