Ivan Cupic beat the buzer with his third goal in the game to steer HC Vardar to a 24:23 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the VELUX EHF Champions League Final claiming their premiere trophy in the European top flight.
The Croatian international also became the first player in the EHF FINAL4 history, who successfully defended the title after he raised the trophy 12 months ago with Vive Tauron Kielce.
Vardar goalie Arpad Sterbik was voted MVP of the Final 4. We’ve been watching handball intensely for at least 15 years, this man is worth every penny, easily one of the best goalkeepers to ever play the game. He was spectacular in goal both against Barcelona and in the final against PSG.
Lets not forget the quiet genius, Vardar’s coach Raul Gonzalez, the soft spoken Spaniard who adopted Macedonia as his country. In his 4th year at the club has gotten Vardar better and better, the culmination is of course the European title. He is also the coach of the Macedonian national team.
Russian born owner Sergej Samsonenko who is a Macedonian citizen was seen wrapped in a Macedonian flag and was at hand with his business partner Orce Kamchev to accept the trophy. No one has invested in Macedonia as much as Samsonenko. Millions of dollars put into sport facilities and state of the art training centers for Macedonian youth. The result today is a European title.
What is remarkable about this sport is the prize money for winning the title. The winner gets a measly 500,000 euros?! While the loser must by satisfied with 250,000! Hansen in PSG alone makes 1m euros per season. Vardar’s own annual budget (increased every year) now stands at whopping 5.5m euros. To be the best, you must bring in the best of the best.
We can confirm that the EHF has been under intense pressure to significantly increase the prize-money. As comparison, UEFA pays the winner of the champions league a stunning 70m euros!
Of course, Vardar fans know how to celebrate:
Croatian and Slovenian broadcasters for their national TV celebrate as much as the Macedonian broadcaster.
Downtown Skopje at 10:30pm:
Vardar are the first Macedonian club to win the EHF Champions League and the 13th overall club to win the trophy.
Vardar are the sixth different champion in the past six years.
Macedonia are the third nation after Slovenia and Spain which is now represented by men’s and women’s EHF Champions League winners. Kometal Skopje won the women’s competition in 2003.
After Spain, Germany, Slovenia, France and Poland, Macedonia is the sixth nation representing a men’s EHF Champions League winner.
Raul Gonzalez is the third Spanish coach in the past three years after Xavi Pascual (Barcelona) and Talant Dujshebaev (Kielce) to win the EHF Champions League.
Four weeks ago, Vardar’s women’s team had lost their EHF Champions League Final against Györ after extra-time