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“The most important title will always be my son”

BarcelonaThere are victories that are not the end, but the path. The season is over and it’s time to take stock. Aitor Ariño (Penarth, United Kingdom, 1992) has been one of the Barça players who has been able to lift the Handball Champions League for the second consecutive season. It is true that the year has ended in the best possible way. The beginning, however, was very different: the Catalan was recovering from the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament that he suffered in his left knee. Now, with perspective, he attends to ARA after the historic milestone reached.

It’s been a few days since you lifted the Champions League again. How do you remember the final?

– I lived it with a lot of tension. The match was decided by the details. We came from a very difficult season and we have it very much in mind. We had suffered, the team was ready for that moment and it went well.

It was crazy. A very tight match that will tie you in the last second. Did you hesitate?

– No! It is true that we are tied, but we leave happy. We were doing things right. The small details made the difference. We recovered and in overtime we headed out. Then we ended up winning on penalties. It was epic!

Mentally it must have been exhausting, so much stress.

– The psychological part is very important. We spent the whole year getting ready for a time like this. During the year we have had some defeats that have made us stronger, and we were more prepared than other years for those moments.

How do you prepare for a final of this level with less competitive state competition?

– We had psychological preparation and we have been doing mini-games between us. The Carlos [Ortega] he did a very good preparation of the match and gave us the little details that made everything go well.

Are you aware that you have achieved an unprecedented feat?

– We’ve already suffered a bit. It was one of the most important goals of the team. We had in mind the back to back, to win the Champions again, and from the beginning we have followed our path. The day to day of the team was made thinking about winning the Champions.

Personally, has the season been complicated after the injury?

– Yes. I was recovering all summer, doing morning and afternoon to be able to get to that point. I made small sacrifices and everything went well. This is the reward, and that’s why I get excited and all the emotions come out when we achieve success.

This final you had a very special person in the stands for the first time: Luka, your son. Is victory even sweeter?

– It’s the most important thing I have. I always say he is the most important title. Being able to share the triumph with him and his mother was very special. He is now a year and a month old, and was able to come to Cologne. We enjoyed it all together. Now it has come once to the final, we have won, I hope it keeps coming and it gives us luck!

It’s your amulet, you’ll have to wear it to every match.

– Yes! I don’t know if mom will agree, but yes! [riu]

Due to the injury you have been able to live much longer in his early months. What is it like to be a father and an elite athlete?

– You lose much of your child’s growth, but the mother makes a great effort when she is alone caring for him. The truth is that his work has more merit than mine, with training … The boy does give war.

Returning to the sports part. There have been a lot of changes in the locker room this year, and one important thing is that you have become a captain.

– It has been a natural evolution. I have always been willing for the group, to help. I haven’t changed my way of being or my willingness to help the group, and it has been that way from the beginning.

About four captains. What is your role?

– Gonzalo is the one most responsible in the locker room and this must be respected. The other captains are here to help him and Carlos, and especially the new teammates so that they can adapt quickly and understand what Barça is.

How do you explain to a player who arrives the peculiarities of the club?

– We must make them understand that the demand is in the day to day. They must always give their best because otherwise the performance, theirs and that of the team, is harmed. They also need to understand that time passes very quickly and being in this club is very difficult.

Another change in terms of the group was the arrival of Carlos Ortega.

– He has been understanding us, getting to know us … He was selling new to a great club and a team that was winning everything. We have always said that coming to Barça is not easy, let alone in the situation in which he came. We have been giving in to each other, like good relationships [riu]we understood each other and it all worked out.

How has the team changed? Different processes but same result?

– We do another type of handball. Tactically, it’s different, we play differently, and in the end the players have adapted to this strategy and Carlos ’tactical work. I’ve been feeling really good since I came back from injury and I’m happy with the coach’s confidence. We already know each other better, we know what he wants.

And now what? Is lifting the Champions League too daring a goal?

– No, no, and now! The goal is to do it again. We are at the club to win titles! Now it’s time to rest, but on August 8, when we return, the goal will be to aspire to win all the titles.

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