Nikola Karabatić to Retire with Pride After 2023/24 Season

Photo of Karabatic

An icon of handball is preparing to depart from the sport in the upcoming year. Nikola Karabatić, a prominent member of Paris Saint-Germain, has announced his decision to retire after the 2023/24 season. Through a deeply emotional letter shared on PSG’s official website on Friday, Karabatić expressed his feelings, underscoring, “Though nostalgia might come in the future, my present priority is to wholeheartedly engage in this last year alongside everyone.”

Throughout the past two decades, Karabatic has emerged as a notable figure in the realm of international handball. Regarded by many as one of the sport’s most versatile athletes, Karabatic has accumulated an impressive array of achievements throughout his illustrious career.

His triumphs encompass three EHF Champions League titles achieved with three different squads (Montpellier HB in 2003, THW Kiel in 2007, and Barça in 2015). Additionally, he has clinched three EHF EURO championships, secured four world titles, and earned three Olympic gold medals while representing the French national team.

Friday’s announcement doesn’t come as a major surprise. In recent times, Karabatic, who marked his 39th birthday this past April, has encountered several injury challenges that led to his extended absence from the courts. Particularly notable were his surgical treatment for a torn ACL in his right knee in 2020 and his struggle with phlebitis during the latter stages of the 2022/23 season.

In his farewell letter, Karabatic expresses his feelings, stating, “The start of this ultimate season on the field brings me immense joy. This feeling arises from the anticipation of savoring the distinctive ambiance of French and European arenas one last time. I am eagerly looking forward to joining forces with my teammates, aiming for further titles, and ultimately concluding this phase of my career with a profound sense of pride.”

Brought up in the household of professional handball player Branko Karabatic, both Nikola and his younger brother Luka were fully immersed in the sport from an early age. Their exceptional talent eventually propelled them into becoming one of the most celebrated pairs of siblings in the world of handball. Nikola, predominantly occupying the roles of left and centre back, is set to partake in his final season alongside Luka, a proficient line player for both PSG and the French national team.

Karabatic’s accomplishments encompass an impressive count of 71 appearances for France in EHF EURO tournaments and engagement in 38 matches spanning five Olympic Games – establishing records in both categories. On two occasions during his career, he simultaneously held the three most prestigious titles for national teams: European, world, and Olympic champion. Additionally, he clinched the title of IHF World Player of the Year three times – in the years 2007, 2014, and 2016.

“I plan to thoroughly enjoy the unique atmosphere of both French and European arenas one last time, participating in matches and competitions alongside my teammates as we strive to clinch more championships. Following that, I will bring my career to a close with a deep feeling of pride.” said Nikola Karabatic.

“Over these years, I’ve devoted my passion and energy to this cherished sport, which I deeply respect,” Karabatic conveys. “I’ve wholeheartedly engaged my mental and physical faculties in this challenging endeavor.”

Aiming for his fourth European top-tier championship, albeit the first with his current squad, Karabatic and PSG will commence their Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2023/24 campaign with an away fixture against OTP Bank – Pick Szeged in Hungary on Thursday, September 14th.


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