Julen Aginagalde, in this season's Bidasoa-Nava.
Julen Aginagalde and his fifth, those born in 1982 and 1983, were hung with a sanbenito that they still remember: nothing less than the “black generation”. That junior team was the first and only in the history of Spanish men's handball that did not qualify for a European of its category. And, also, with a penalty missed at the last minute by the Basque pivot against France, of course. That accident continues to dot their conversations 20 years later, although no longer dramas. Subsequent history has not only cleansed them , but has turned them into a golden generation: 26 medals between Albert Rocas, Viran Morros , Dani Sarmiento and Aginagalde. An account that they have not yet closed
They have the Games. The Irundarra has been waiting for you since last summer in the warmth of home, in Bidasoa, with his brother Gurutz as president. There he was born and there he returned this season after seven courses in the Polish Kielce, where he took refuge in 2013 when the economic collapse of the Asobal caused the great diaspora. At 38, he was the first to return home to the big names who emigrated and this should be his last short season. The closeness of the retreat, however, does not invite him to many retrospectives. The present, he says, continues to rule. “I have a bit of a career left and I am not going to close this cycle. I am excited about things and hopefully they can be achieved. For example, an Olympic medal or a title with the Bidasoa. Why not? ”He wonders.
“I have a bit of a career left and I am not going to close this cycle. I am excited about things. For example, an Olympic medal or a title with the Bidasoa. Why not?"
The second is not anything. It would mean taking him away from Barcelona and no one in Spain has been able to do that since he played for Atlético months before going to Poland, two lives ago. The Catalans carry 30 consecutive laurels. Starting this Friday there will be a new attempt at the Copa del Rey held in Madrid in a final format of eight and with a maximum of 1,500 spectators in the stands. "Barça is at a level equal to or higher than when I left, and the rest have dropped a bit. In a three-day tournament, the more matches that pass, the more prepared they will be and the more difficult it will be for others, but the motivation is the same. Anyway, the illusion is not only to defeat Barcelona. There are many incentives. We met in the quarterfinals with Benidorm, who eliminated us last year, and then the European place is guaranteed for the other finalist if you play the title against Barça [they all give him a League champion and that would guarantee a ticket to the Cup finalist] ”, says Aginagalde. At Bidasoa, which is on the other side of the table than Barça, that is the shortest way to continental competitions.
“It may be that handball in Spain is different from before I left, that it has less physicality and throwing, but in technique and individual mischief the level is good. They are very tactical teams, with players who tickle you a lot and look for your weak points, ”defends this 1.96m, 120-kilo body, who started out as a center-back and winger, and he had to look for lentils early in the pivot because he lacked jump and agility.
"For the World Cup I had some back discomfort and I talked about it with Jordi [Ribera], but then the decision was his"
The Cup also places him before a possible duel in the semifinals with a lot of crumb, with Rubén Marchán , the Ademar León player who replaced him in the last World Cup, where Spain was bronze . "It was his first time in a competition of this type and he did it very well," acknowledges Aginagalde. “I had some back pain and I talked about it before with Jordi [Ribera], but then the decision was made by the coach. There is not much more to say about this. It is clear that it would be a dream to go to the Games ”, he admits. The Catalan coach has shown his intention to continue calling the old guard to Tokyo, however, the good deployment of Marchán has installed, at least, the doubt. Whoever goes, it is clear that Aginagalde's history with the national team, with which he has 191 games, 463 goals and six metals, will not go beyond Japan. "It is a stage that ends, some players already have an age," he points out.
And when everything is over, with Spain and Bidasoa, what will continue in his life is more handball. “It is where I have the most experience, where I can contribute the most and where I can continue to enjoy the most. I took out my coach's card and I just need to submit my memory, but we'll see. Before this year I was thinking about more things for the future ”, he says. While he decides, he still has a few strokes of the paddle on the slopes, as his father did with the drifter, teaching the young people if necessary: “Sometimes they ask you things and listen to what I say, but I'm also a good badges in the locker room, so they'll be pretty tired of me. Now highly competitive sport is more professional ”, he concludes.
Final phase of the Copa del Rey
Ademar León-Huesca (12.00)
Puente Genil-Granollers (17.30)
Winner of rooms 1 and 2 (16.30)
Winner of rooms 3 and 4 (19.00) Final
. Sunday. 19.15
Television: LaLiga Sports TV and regional. The final, also in Tdp.