Hello, I’m Samir Handanovic, or Boatman as my little fans call me after Batman, they – despite the few – see me as a superhero and I don’t know why, I’m that goalkeeper who used to appear with a hat over his head in those matches played in the sun. I think that is the best part of my career, I am a man accustomed to the shade, I may not like the sun, rather I am not used to it. I suppose you know that, but today I am standing for the first time in the spotlight, so let me tell you my story.
I don’t know where to start, but Inter Milan won the Italian league title, it was their first title after 10 lean years. Personally, it was my first tournament. I had never stood on a podium before, my hands had never touched a cup and I didn’t wear a gold medal. It was the first ever; So I decided to give up my silent habits and talk to you, it will be the first time I tell you my story that few know, and few care about.
Did you imagine that after the first title I will travel the whole world and run like crazy? I’m sorry because you don’t know me well, I’m calmer than you think, I don’t know a way to happiness but a leap in the air and my fist at the top like Batman, I have a lot of feelings inside, but I’m calm, I always smile so those around me know that I’m happy, I love solitude, and I love sitting alone and meditating, I’m not used to being loud, so I never looked for him in the best moments of my career. (1)
off the field? Quiet just as I am inside, I love reading about football, sports and psychology, books are always my solitude companion, Dostoevsky is my favorite writer, I love ice cream too, I eat it daily in the summer and it’s okay once a week in the rest of the times. I suppose there’s no reason then for you to be surprised by my tendency to be quiet and solitude, which is not at all strange for a man who spends his time reading and eating ice cream, is it? (2)
And lest you get me wrong, this does not mean a negative attitude towards people. Perhaps the solitude, to which I go voluntarily, makes me feel more about those who are compelled to do so, and it may be a reason for me to volunteer to serve the deaf and blind in one of the charities in Italy, as I consider it one of my most important activities outside the ball. I usually care to communicate with them from time to time to break the isolation they live in and compensate for their inability to integrate into different societies. I also promote campaigns for communities to understand them more and encourage more people to connect with them to lead a normal life, the more people communicate with them, they help them break out of the darkness and silence that they have been forced into. (3)
My childhood? It does not have many details, my life story is not dramatic, and I did not suffer the ravages of wars and famines until football saved me. Life was not hard on me and at the same time I did not enjoy much luxury, my first years in life went as my journey with the ball, a normal, quiet life without noise, without lights. A young kid who loves football and looks at life from its perspective, and has many dreams that he wants to achieve through them, nothing more.
And in terms of football, I think it’s time to start talking about my journey with it, my career with Inter started months before my 29th birthday. The beginning was in my country, Slovenia, and in 2004 Udinese signed me, and at that time I did not play with them, but I spent 3 years with loans in Italy. I moved to Lazio and also did not play much, I had no refuge but the second division; Several short trips were enough for me to qualify to return to Udinese and start an interesting journey, the one that took the biggest part of my career, before the Inter trip that everyone knows about me. (4)
Returning to Udinese was nothing but the culmination of an exceptional season I played with Rimini, conceding only 36 goals in 39 games with a small team is not easy, it was in 2006-2007, the season that represented the real start for me, and it was a title that has remained with me throughout my career so far Few goals and a lot of clean sheets, even if my team is suffering, and even if a defense line plays in front of me, I face more than 20 balls on my goal in every match. (5)
In Udinese, I had a huge turning point. There I met Adriano Bonaioti, the goalkeeper coach, who left his mark on my career more than anyone else. He is a man with a special philosophy in football and in seeing matches from the goalkeeper’s perspective. This made me change the way I think and train as well, and the reason It is an approach to his work that is difficult to explain in a few words because it is so detailed; From the development of goalkeepers physically and in terms of their position in the goal, to the intense training sessions that some may not imagine that the goalkeeper needs to develop, my journey there may have been an explosion in my level, and of course I cannot get praise alone for that, if it weren’t for Bonayoti, what would have happened Event.
The fact that I did not win any title before my league this year makes me not have many records, but my heart is attached to one of these few numbers because it is exactly like me, in the Milan derby that we played in October 2020, I managed to save a penalty kick by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, To become the goalkeeper with the most penalty kicks in Serie A history with 25 penalties in 511 matches, smashing the number of Gianluca Pagliuca, who was also a goalkeeper for Inter, but do you know what’s funny about it? That penalty kick was followed by Ibra successfully and scored a goal, and we lost the match in the end with two goals to one. This was the scenes of my breaking of a historical record that has stood for decades. Is there something more capable of describing my career more than that? (7)
Speaking of this historical figure, I feel like going further, I do not want to close his page quickly, because, as I told you, he is close to my heart and very similar to me. In what? in his ability to render my work a goalkeeper in the abstract; In the penalty kick, there is no room to talk about the team’s situation, about its level in terms of competition, about the quality of the defense line that plays in front of me. Where there is no room to complain and appear in the role of the victim, but rather a golden opportunity to save the team and play the championship role, without paying attention to the lights that will shine on me after that, as I do not give it any attention, as you know.
Before I forget, and to mention the numbers, do you know that I am the best goalkeeper in the Italian League 3 times? Two of them were at the height of the brilliance of Gianluigi Buffon, considered by many to be the best in history, and in one of them snatched the award in a Udinese shirt. I’m a major reason for that, since by taking away my rebuttals things look a lot worse, to be honest, I like things like that, because they make me feel the value of what they’ve given, I hear them and I smile, and I go on my way. (8)
In 2020 I celebrated my 36th birthday, the number did not surprise me much, some white hairs gave me a signal that I was approaching forty, and most importantly, things I used to do easily did not become like that, and balls I stood looking at because it was difficult to move towards them with a quick reaction, I don’t remember that things were like that Years ago, they were preludes because the journey was almost over, without gold, without a moment to culminate in the years of patience, which I lived willingly and were not entirely forced, frankly.
How did I live it willingly? When I turned down offers that would have made me better off, both financially and professionally, by raising a title or two. Liverpool, for example, wanted me and many English offers came to me, but I did not accept them, in addition to Barcelona’s interest in me at one time, steps that ensured me to stand on the podium at least once, but I loved Inter. Why? Because it is unique; Special and sexy, just like crazy to me. (9)
My relationship with Inter did not start in a rosy era, but I went through a difficult period, a change of ownership, replacement and renewal, and to be honest I was able in the midst of all of that to touch the positive side, as this certainly makes the challenge more exciting and difficult, and makes success a special taste, yes, putting more pressure I have, but that’s okay, it’s part of any athlete’s life, and it can easily be eliminated with an evening lounging or some ice cream. Personally, I find life simpler than many imagine.
But as the journey headed toward its end in the shadows, that moment came, touching gold after time has judged us harshly for grim years, and it is time for you to smile at last. I lifted the Italian League title as Inter captain, they told me that the last person to do this was Javier Zanetti, so my joy doubled. He incarnated in front of me, for a moment, he did not incarnate in front of me, I lived it myself, and I starred in it.
In any case, there is still life left, it does not matter how the few years that remain until the end of the journey will pass, I no longer care, I am completely satisfied that the end will be like this, this is how I dreamed, and I was not used to greed to look for more, especially when I am between me and the forty years I am only 3 years old. I hope I didn’t bore you, now I finished my story, I finished it under the lights, for the first time, I’m Samir Handanovic, life gave me lights at the end of the tunnel, just as I painted in my dreams, but to be honest also, I thought they would forever be just dreams, and nothing more.