Elohim Prandi (Paris-SG Hand): “I crossed a line”

PSG left-back Elohim Prandi (24) took on another dimension at the start of the season. Victim of a serious attack on December 31, 2021 (6 stab wounds in the back), the French international, elected player of the month in October in StarLigue, is back and walks through the front door. Interview made for Handball Magazine and Le Quotidien du Sport.

You scored 14 goals against Dunkirk, your record. Do you feel like you’ve reached a new level this season?

I feel good and is certain that I have passed a milestone. I know clearly where I want to go, I will give myself the means to be there, it requires consistency and very strong performance.

At what level did you pass a milestone?

I grew up. I have matured, also from a ballistic point of view. I work on my shots, even more on understanding the game, on many details. I’m in top form.

Did you work on anything in particular?

Yes, physically, my toning and explosive skills, my punches. We challenge each other with the goalkeepers. It is essential for us shooters to improve our accuracy. It’s a whole but trust is key and I know I have faith in myself and I don’t doubt it.

You say you know where you want to go. Meaning what ?

I want to win as many titles as possible, and not just once. I also always think of the French team.

Is being top scorer in the league one of your goals this season?

It’s complicated because I don’t take penalties. They are however well placed. I’ll do my best, and that would be great, but I won’t be able to score 14 goals in every match! (laughs)

Does your attack on December 31 make you see handball in a different way?

It also allowed me to question myself, to see where I wanted to go, what I had to do to get there. On the pitch it’s about rigor, consistency and being decisive in important moments. I want to be a great player and that’s where you see the great players. This episode was a tough time but, in the end, it was a blessing in disguise.

“I want to be a great player and it’s in the decisive moments that you see the greats”

When you signed for PSG in 2020, you were eagerly awaited…

I’ve been featured very highly in the media. I went from Nîmes to Paris which monopolized titles and Final Four, with super stars. In Nîmes I had responsibilities, but we weren’t on the same scale at all. It took me some time, that’s true, but better late than never and I want to respond to the position I claim.

Did you get the impression that PSG were asking questions about you?

I think he expected much better, that I was more decisive, more important. Now, when I arrived, there were still Mikkel Hansen, Nedim Remili, Niko Karabatic… Luc Steins also arrived and took an important place. Keeping up with these players who have years of experience at the highest level in the world is complicated. It’s a matter of time. I could have gotten there sooner, but that’s the way it is.

Did you doubt?

Of course ! Sometimes we wonder if we have the level to play in a club like this. In Nîmes, even if I didn’t play the Champions League, I played the European Cup and I didn’t have that problem. I took the time to work, over and over, and to bear my pain patiently.

“The choice to be in the world is not mine”

Did you regret not being called up to France against Latvia and Italy?

I spoke to Guillaume (Gille). He had his reasons. He pushes me to work even harder.

Would you understand, after your start to the season, that you are not in the list for the World Cup?

The choice is not mine. Everything that belongs to me is what I do on the pitch.

Between you and the Blues, in addition to participating in Euro 2020 (14th), are missed appointments…

I missed super important moments, the World Cup due to a shoulder problem, the TQO due to my ankle. It’s super frustrating and drives me crazy. Then, I dragged a groin for two and a half months and I arrived at the preparation for the Games embarrassed, which prevented me from really being 100%. It happens to me after what happened to me… It’s very frustrating, but my mother often tells me that there are no coincidences in life. I have taken time to rebuild and refocus myself to reach this very high level. I’m on the right track.

Do you have a mental trainer?

No. I have a very humane mother, she also allows me to argue. I also have people who I consider my family, who have made me open up to myself, who have made me discover other facets of my personality. Eventually I realized that I was the one holding the cards.

“Nothing has been decided to extend with Paris”

Your contract with PSG is about to expire. Where will you play next season?

We will discuss with Paris. Nothing is decided.

Wouldn’t going abroad be in the order of things?

One day maybe, but I play for one of the best clubs in the world and I have the goal of winning the Champions League with this club. I also came for that and I firmly believe in it! Why not stay in Paris for a few more years and then we ask ourselves the question of going abroad.

PSG probably have fewer means this season than other clubs to win the Champions League. Didn’t he miss his chance?

I do not think so. The players have left, no doubt for goals, for financial reasons, for the living environment. It is always more attractive to live in Barcelona than in Paris and pay less taxes. But I, today, am French, I play in France, in one of the best clubs in the world which is French, in Paris, I’m not complaining!

Isn’t there a club that makes you dream?

I’ve always idolized Germany a lot, but between idolizing and going there…

Paris were beaten in Toulouse after a 35-game winning streak in the league. Is it less stressful to no longer have this record to keep?

Nobody likes to lose, we are competitors! But it’s a blessing in disguise. We are human. We could be PSG, it can happen that we lose. We still have a super tough league, with great players. Toulouse is a very good well-established team, we were still in the development phase. It served as an anchor point in order not to reproduce the same mistakes.

Did Nantes’ defeat in Limoges surprise you?

Yes, even if I always have the impression that the championship is much more difficult. In any case, this defeat relaunches the championship. The three title contenders are on an equal footing.

Given their budget, PSG should be champions every year…

Nantes and Montpellier also have great ways of attracting big players. Aix, Nîmes or Chambéry are not lacking in quality. In this league everyone can make trouble for everyone! The level has gone up a notch.

Elohim Prandi admires Karabatic

Luka Karabatic has been named captain of the Blues. A logical choice?

He was already the captain of PSG. Val (Valentin Porte, ed) wanted to return the captain’s armband and, in terms of experience, Luka was the most legitimate.

Could it have been Nikola Karabatic?

That’s not what attracts him the most. Everyone knows he’s a leader and he doesn’t have to have an armband for everyone to know. His career, his titles, his experience, is well above a band! He doesn’t need it.

This could be his last season. How does it feel to play with such a player?

With him I learned a lot. He has an extraordinary mind. He is a force of nature. He never stops chasing every game, every title. He is always hungry for victory. He is one or the best player of all time. He is above all psychologically that he impresses me. He helped me a lot in this process, to be strong, stable, zen, serene.

It seems that until PSG win the Champions League, every season will not be completely successful.

We want to win the league because that’s what makes us play in the Champions League. But the ultimate dream is to bring the first Champions League back to PSG, which has been chasing it for ten years. Being part of this team will remain for life and I hope to be part of it. Often the favorites are not the ones who win in the end so I believe it!

Don’t you have anything planned for next New Year’s?

(smiles) No, I’m going to mom!

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