One week ago HC Vardar from Skopje won the VELUX EHF Champions League in Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. It's so far the biggest achievement in the Macedonian club sport. I was there photographing the event and I wanted to wrote something about that but I needed a couple of days to calm down the emotions. So here I am writing this...
It was my second F4 in Cologne but for the first time team from my hometown was competing so the stakes were higher. HC Vardar played semifinal against Barcelona Lassa and they won with a goal scored by Luka Cindric in the last seconds, a huge celebration was going on. Barca was eliminated in the semifinal and previously PSG win over Veszprem, so in the final Vardar will meet THE MIGHTY Paris Saint Germain.
Than, the big final was there. When you play against PSG, against "all-star" team with a players like Karabatic, Omeyer, Abalo, Narcisse you need to have the respect but in the same time you need to be brave enough to win - the Vardar guys were brave enough. It was a close game, both teams were leading by one or two goals, than the equalizers...
I remember that two minutes before the game finish all the photographers were standing, waiting for the final whistle. The sector for the Vardar fans was right behind me, the cheering was amazing. I chose that side because when Vardar player score a goal they were celebrating to the Vardar fans sector. Six seconds till the end, Raul Gonzalez (Vardar coach) had a time out call. The score was 23-23. Alex Dujshebaev passes to Ivan Cupic on the wing, Cupic was in the air........... (indescribable moments) ........... and BOOM! GOAL! HC VARDAR SKOPJE IS THE NEW EUROPEAN CLUB CHAMPION! Everything went crazy, celebrating, crying, amazing atmosphere. HC Vardar players were on the top of the Europe beating PSG in the final. A team from my hometown is a new EHF Champions League winner. I can just wish to every photographer to feel the same.
After the ceremony I went to the hotel where the players were already celebrating in the lobby bar. There were also a lot of HC Vardar fans in front of the hotel. As a souvenir from this historic tournament I keep the photo-bib in which I was taking photos on the semifinal and the final match. It is signed by the players and the coaching staff.
FULL FINAL MATCH (PSG-Vardar) GALLERY
FULL CELEBRATING AFTER THE GAME GALLERY
FULL TROPHY CEREMONY GALLERY
FULL SEMIFINAL MATCH (Vardar-Barcelona) GALLERY
FULL CELEBRATING AFTER THE SEMIFINAL GALLERY
FULL SEMIFINAL MATCH (Veszprem-PSG) GALLERY
FANS BEFORE Vardar-Barcelona SEMIFINAL GALLERY
FULL OPENING CEREMONY GALLERY
HC VARDAR MASCOT SHOW GALLERY