Ilija Abutović is a Serbian handball player who played for the Macedonian handball club “RK Vardar” for 7 years. In 2017, they won the Championship League and he has become unstoppable ever since.

Playing as a Left Back with his 2.02m height, I can definitely say that he is one of the best defensive players I have ever met.

His drive and motivation along with his hard work got him to the top. Right now, he plays for the German handball club “Rhein-Neckar Löwen” and his success is growing by the day.

One of his goals in life is to motivate as many people as possible by being their role model.

In today’s interview, Ilija Abutović and I will introduce you to the daily life of a champion and let you know how it feels to work the job you have always dreamed of.

1. Who Is Ilija Abutović?

Tose Zafirov

Q: Hello Ilija. I would like to begin by thanking you for this interview. Your name is one of the most famous in the history of Macedonian and world handball. How did you decide on this career and at what point did you realize that you wanted to become a handball player?

Ilija Abutović

A: I started playing handball when I was 10 years old. It was the most popular sport in my country at that time.

It was a sport of great tradition. Many famous athletes were well-known and successful because of this sport.

2. What Is Your Biggest Inspiration?

Tose Zafirov

Q: You are one of the best players in the world and you have succeeded so much in the past.

Do you have anyone who you have been particularly fond of since you started playing handball professionally?

Ilija Abutović

A: Of course I had my idols when I started training. I can’t say just one, there were a lot of players I wanted to see as a kid.

3. What Does It Take to Become the Best of the Best?

Tose Zafirov

Q: How come you are this successful? Except for being physically fit, are there any other qualities that play a major role in your overall success?

Ilija Abutović

A: I’ve always wanted to train hard and to be at this current level. I’ve always given 100% of myself to all of the training and matches.

But, there are other factors as well. What is important is to be consistent with the training, nutrition and rest. Since this is a collective sport, it is important to agree with the other players and practice teamwork.

Being a professional athlete is not easy at all.

4. How Did Macedonia Make an Impression on You?

Tose Zafirov

Q: How were you feeling when you were still a part of “RK Vardar”? Did Macedonia leave a long-lasting impression on you, what was your experience like here, and what did you learn?

Ilija Abutović

A: I spent 7 years in “RK Vardar”.

“RK Vardar” and Skopje are connected together in a special way.

I came to the club when it wasn’t that famous. But, when Sergei arrived, the club was over the top. The big results were staring to be visible, and the most legendary moment for me was when we won the Champions League in 2017.

I will never forget that feeling and the warm welcome to Skopje when I arrived with “Rhein-Neckar Löwen”.

Moments like those are the reason why every athlete is training hard. While we’re at it, I would like to thank the fans, again. Because of them, I never once felt like a stranger.

5. What Is the Formula for Success?

Tose Zafirov

Q: Can you name at least one trait that separates the top athletes and champions from the other players, what does it take to get on top of the ladder?

Ilija Abutović

A: Well, in my opinion, there are many factors. But the main thing is the wish to be better and persistence alone.

That’s what is essential for everyone to be successful.

6. What Has Changed Since You Moved to Germany?

Tose Zafirov

Q: After leaving “RK Vardar” and starting playing for the German team “Rhein-Neckar Löwen”, what was your biggest change, what did you have to adapt to and what was the overall experience like?

Ilija Abutović

A: Well honestly, it was very difficult for me to leave “RK Vardar”.

It was hard to get used to some new things, then there was a different language, the culture, and the different styles of playing handball.

This is my second year here and as time goes by, I am slowly getting used to my new life.

7. Do You Miss the Balkan Cuisine?

Tose Zafirov

Q: Macedonian and the overall Balkan cuisines are more specific and different from the German one. Were there any difficulties you faced when you have realized that the Balkan cuisine in Germany wasn’t that common?

Ilija Abutović

A: Our cuisine and the food, in my opinion, are the best.

This was one of the most problematic things when I arrived here. To get used to German food.

I think our gastronomy is much better than theirs.

8. How Can One’s Dream Come True?

Tose Zafirov

Q: What does it take to become a winner, how do you easily reach any goal that you’ve put your mind on to, and how do you motivate yourself to do so?

Ilija Abutović

A: Well, to become a professional in any field requires a lot of effort and dedication. There are many ups and downs.

You should first start with a dream and when the dream becomes a goal, you will simply know that you are on the right track.

9. How Did You Fall in Love With Handball?

Tose Zafirov

Q: How did handball become a part of your life, how did you discover that you love the sport, and what drove you to pursue a professional career in the sport?

Ilija Abutović

A: When I was a kid, my biggest dream was always to be in one of the best teams in Europe and win the Champions League.

10. What Is Your Message to the World?

Tose Zafirov

Q: If you could send a message to the world, especially to people who are just starting out and have a dream to hopefully one day play in some professional league like you, what would you tell them?

Ilija Abutović

A: To become one of the best players in the game, you need to absolutely love handball, and you have to dream and breathe for it.

You need to constantly train hard, even when you want to give up.

Nothing is easy, but hard work is the only way to become one of the best.

Final Words

It was a pleasure to have you here with me today, Ilija. We all appreciate your hard work and admire your achievements. So, I wish you all the best in the future.

If you want to learn more information about his life and career, you can check Ilija’s official Wikipedia Page.

Ilija Abutović Social Media Profiles:

If you want to check the inspiring stories of many other sports professionals, make sure to check the Interviews page.

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Tose Zafirov

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