handball. Mihai Popescu, in the Xavi Pascual staff of the Romanian national team

Article by Costi Prună – Posted on Mon Feb 21 2022 10:49 / Updated Mon Feb 21 2022 11:31

Mihai Popescu will take care of goalkeepers for the representative team. After 21 years of working in Romania, the “Pope” agreed to the proposal of Xavi Pascual.

Saint Raphael’s goalkeeper, in Ligue 1, Mihai Popescu, will turn 37 on March 15. He has been playing in France since 2015 and wants to retire after 2-3 years. Popescu left great handball from Găești, before playing in Hexagon, he defended HCM Constanța goal for 12 years, has more than 200 selections for the national team and was named 8 times as the best Romanian handball player.


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Pope was Romania’s goalkeeper in the 2009 and 2011 World Cups, and in 2018 he lost the UEFA Cup Final to Saint Raphael. The coach of the national team, Xavi Pascual, suggested to him the position of coach with the goalkeepers, and the “Frenchman” accepted it without hesitation.

“It’s time to retire from the national team, but I’m happy to be part of Basqui’s crew.”This is what Mihai Popescu told Gazeta. Talking about what he will do for the national team, he says that his soul is hurt by the poor results of the representative team, but he is confident that things will change.

Congratulations Mihai for the new position in the national team! How did you receive Xavi Pascual’s offer?
– Thanks a lot. Xavi Pascual tells me he trusts me, and needs me, to be his second.

“Are you surprised by Baskey’s suggestion?”
– Yes, it surprised me and at the same time made me very happy, because I can still help the national team, where I have been for 20 years. I have always played for Romania with honor and pride.

– What do you think about coach Mihai Popescu?
– (no -laugs) I still haven’t thought of it. Honestly, I’m excited to be in this position, but there won’t be any problems. Guys know me, I know the kind of person I am and I think it would be easy for me to adapt.

– How will you help Xavi Pascual?
I will warm up with the team before matches and training, I will be responsible for the goalkeepers and I will shoot training videos with Pasqi.

Mihai Popescu: “Leave the place of youth”

– Are you still playing?
I will not play for the national team anymore, but I want to officially retire. It’s time to let go of it and move on. I will continue to appear on the club team for another 2-3 years. I have offers from France and Romania. In the summer my contract with Saint Raphael ends.

– How would you describe the Romanian handball goalkeeper?
– We have always had very good goalkeepers in the national team, and I think that’s in our tradition. Penu, Munteanu, Buligan and Stănescu are just some of our great goalkeepers, who have set an example for us and inspired us, those who followed. The goalkeeper can be a leader, he can give confidence and strength to the team in the weak moments of the match.

– Why do you think Romania no longer has results in men’s handball?
There are so many things to say, but so much to do. The selection area is very important. All teams must have children, junior centers and training centers. School sports are also very important. We did a lot of sports in school, and the kids knew the basics. It’s getting more difficult now.

gradual return

– Suffering because Romanian men’s handball no longer works?
– My soul hurts, but at the same time I know that everyone who was in the national team tried to change something. As much as I can and as much as I can.

Do you think Romania can return to the world handball lead?
We can go back, but we have to take it gradually, be patient, invest in children, trust young people. It’s going to be tough, we’re a little late and we have a lot of work to do, but nice things can be accomplished.

9 titlesMihai Popescu won the National Championship during his time playing for HCM Constanța in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

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