He is not just another Handball legend, but the ultimate centre court player of all-time and one of the most successful coaches ever. Talant Dujshebayev, the Kyrgyzstan-born and later naturalised Spanish citizen, has earned so many spoils in his long career that others might need more than two lives to match his achievements.
Following the unfortunate recent bankruptcy of Atletico Madrid, he was compelled to take a break from action, but instead of dwelling on his misfortune he is relishing these rare relaxing moments by closely monitoring the progress both his talented sons, Alex and Dani, are making in Handball.
The 1993 World Champion with Russia is confident that the 24th edition of the Handball’s largest global event in Qatar in 2015 will be a massive hit.
“I believe that the World Championship in Doha will be successful and well-organised. I feel upbeat about that prospect and I have faith in Qatar. I know that the Organising Committee is working really hard.
I was in Doha in 2012 watching the Asian Men’s Junior Championship and I was impressed by the high-standard of the event, while I was also surprised by the strength of the Qatari team (Qatar won the gold medal).
It is good for our sport to see Qatar, or Brazil and Argentina from South America, progressing and reaching the level of the traditional European superpowers.”
The appointment of Valero Rivera at the helm of the national team was a major step forward for the Qatari Handball and Talant Dujshebayev finds no reason to disagree with that:
“Valero is a great coach and the gold medal he won with Spain at the World Championship last January further bolstered his fame.
He told me that the Qatari team is currently in a decent level and he feels that his players have the potential to strive for success. An eight-finals berth, as a minimum target for 2015, looks feasible to me.
Valero has less than two years to work hard and succeed; neither a short nor an adequate time for impressive results.”
As a player, Talant squared off just once against Qatar throughout his international career in a second round game at the 2003 World Championship in Portugal. In 2001 he was reportedly approached by Qatari clubs, but he opted to return in Spain instead, after a four-year tenure in the German Bundesliga. Has he considered the option to work in Qatar as a trainer in the near future?
“Nothing is impossible! I have built a mutual-trust relationship with the Qatar Handball Association and I have full respect for the President, Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Shaabi, who has a very strong personality. I have many proposals in my hands at the moment, but suppose a Qatari team would invite me to join them, I would seriously consider that option.”
The transition from player to coach was initially ideal for Talant, but soon he was forced to deal with an unforeseen occurrence. He started working with 11-year-old youngsters in BM Ciudad Real and later on with 15-16-year-old players, when the fullness of time came to coach the senior team. But the caprices of fortune forced him to come out of retirement, when the centre court starter Uros Zoroman was injured and he eventually became a player and a coach at the same time.
“It was a very tough period for me. When I was in action with my heart beating 200 beats per minute, it was tough to have a clear mind and to take the right decisions. I was lucky to have an excellent communication with my assistant and thus we managed to deliver.
Not all players have the ability to follow a coaching career after retirement. You can “smell” it while you are still active that one day you might become a trainer or not. For a play maker, like I was, this seemed easier to comprehend, since I had to talk a lot with the trainer and my teammates in order to steer the team on court. When the President of Ciudad Real offered me the opportunity to switch to a trainer’s role I did not have any second thoughts.”
Although Spain are the reigning World Champions, the severe financial crisis the country is facing has deeply affected Liga ASOBAL, the local once-mighty Handball League. Talant Dujshebayev’s last year of the contract he signed with Atletico Madrid was never activated, after the successor of BM Ciudad Real bankrupted. Many more clubs have to deal with similar fiscal problems as well and quite a few players have chosen the immigration road.
“The economical crisis Spain is facing has caused huge problems not only in sports, but in the whole social structure. A large number of players desert their country, seeking a better future in wealthiest clubs in Germany, France and elsewhere. Liga ASOBAL has been downgraded in the last 2-3 years and I fear the situation is becoming worse. Many clubs are now depending on youngsters since they are not able to sign experienced players.”
Now that Talant Dujshebayev is not committed to a contract and he has more time to spare, does he ponder a life without Handball?
“Handball is my life. I cannot imagine myself being involved in anything else than Handball. I have received many invitations to join a political party in Russia, Kyrgyzstan and in Spain but I turned them all down. I want to stay in sports. Everything I have achieved in my life I did it because I was playing Handball. I feel I still have much to give and that my mission is still incomplete.”
- Born: 2 June 1968 in Frunze, Kyrgyzstan
- Position: Coach (Centre Backcourt as a player)
- Coaching Career
- 2010, 2009, 2008 Spanish Champion (Ciudad Real)
- 2009, 2008, 2006 Champions League winner (Ciudad Real)
- 2012, 2010, 2007 Super Globe winner (Ciudad Real)
- Playing Career
- 1992 Olympic Champion (with Unified Team)
- 2000 & 1996 Olympic bronze medallist (Spain)
- 1993 World Champion (Russia)
- 1998 & 1996 European silver medallist (Spain)
- 2000 European bronze medallist (Spain)
- 1994 Champions League winner (Santander)
- 1992 & 1990 Russian Champion (CSKA)
- 1994 & 1993 Spanish Champion (Teka Santander)
- 2007 & 2004 Spanish Champion (Ciudad Real)
- 1989 World Junior Champion (Soviet Union)
- 1996 & 1994 World Player of the Year
- 1996 European Championship MVP