Macedonian back Julija Nikolic has finished her career with the national team, announcing her decision right after FYR Macedonia qualified for EHF EURO 2012. FYR Macedonia beat Turkey 26:24 and Nikolic scored 10 goals in her last game in Skopje, in a full Kale sports hall, as in the "golden days" when Kometal GP and the women’s national team celebrated many successes.
"This was my last match in the national team. I’d already decided. I want to retire and put all my effort into club competitions. It's time for the youngsters," said Nikolic, who, at the request of head coach Gino Strezovski, agreed to play four qualifying matches against France, Lithuania, and Turkey, scoring 32 goals.
Without her help it will be very difficult for FYR Macedonia at the EHF EURO 2012, because the average of 6-7 goals she gets in each match will be tough to achieve.
Head coach Gino Strezovski was the "guilty party" for luring Julija Nikolic back to the national team. She’d already quit after the qualification game versus the Netherlands for EHF EURO 2010, when she hit the cross bar, the game finishing 28:28, and the guest team celebrated qualification to the final tournament in Denmark.
Nikolic added: "When we negotiated these qualifying matches, the people of the FYR Macedonia Handball Federation and coach Strezovski knew my decision. I told them that I want to help, but whatever the result, these will be my last caps. I have serious injuries that "pull" and if I play at EHF EURO 2012, it will certainly cost me a season of playing at the club. I’ve had four operations on my left knee, surgery and an artificial ligament in a thumb, and therefore I think to quit, if I want to play another 2-3 seasons at club level."
Nikolic is part of the Kometal GP generation that in 2005 played in the EHF Champions League finals, losing to Slagelse DT. Then Portjanko missed the final match, they had to leave the operation. She came in FYR Macedonia in 2003, quickly gained a Macedonian passport and started to play for senior National Team.
Since 2004 she’s been a permanent part of the senior team.
She appeared at the World Championship 2005 in Russia and 2007 in France, and also at the EHF European Championship 2006 in Sweden and in 2008 in FYR Macedonia.
"I`ve already played at European Championships and I know what it means for every athlete. I wish good luck to the girls," told Nikolic, who promised to be in the European Championship stands to cheer for them.