Stars of the World Championships : Dmitry Zhitnikov


18 November 2016

Each week, we offer you a full portrait of one of the players that will be in the spotlights during the World Championships 2017, with the help from one of the four ambassadors of the competition. This week, Dmitry Zhitnikov as seen by Bruno Martini.

His career

Born from parents who were handball players, with a Russian national team player as a father, Dmitry Zhitnikov still doesn’t seem to head for the family sport in his younger years. He tries a little bit of everything, athletics, trampoline and only tries handball courts as a teenage. A genetic gift ? Anyway, he displays impressive qualities and is soon drafted by Chekhov, the best Russian club for the past twenty years. He takes benefits of the stars’ exodus to step into the spotlight, being able to play both on the centre-back and the left-back positions. Quick on his feet, he’s got an arm and a wrist making him the centre of interest for many important European clubs. Without surprise, he leaves for Poland and Wisla Plock in the summer of 2015. With his new jersey, Dmitry Zhitnikov steps up another level and goes for a less complicated game while in the meantime Dmitrii Torgovanov makes him the leader of the Russian national team. Results-wise, it’s not very effective but Zhitnikov is rarely to blame. After a disappointing World Championship in Qatar in 2015, he helps Russia going back up at the ninth place at the last Euro, with powerful shots and massive one against one situations. No surprise, then, that the Hungarian club of Pick Szeged has already signed him for the next seasons…

Bruno Martini about Dmitry Zhitnikov

“Dmitry is a incredibly talented player, he creates a lot of things on the court. He’s more known for his offensive than for his defensive skills. His game would fit really well in the French league, he’s able to organize the offense like and old school back centre, while scoring at the same time. He’s a very complete player and he’s close to very high level for a few years now. Wisla Plock is a good club but I’m surprised he hasn’t been drafted by an even higher team, because in my opinion he’s one of the best players on his position in the Champions League. He might be missing just a littlbit of regularity and a question mark hangs over his capacity to be as good as he is in very important gales. He’s not played much of those either with his club or with his national team of Russia, which hasn’t been in the spotlight lately. But Zhitnikov remains the game leader in this squad and the most talented player of the team.”

Dmitry Zhitnikov and the 2017 World Championship

“For me and all my teammates this World Championship will be one more test! Two years ago in Qatar and at the European Championship in Poland, despite the results we got, we showed that we could compete with everyone! We have many experienced players, which are playing in good European teams and have big international experience, but we also have many young players in team. For them it will be the time first time playing a competition at this level ! I have come a few times to play in Paris for the Champions League and the atmosphere has always been really good. Our goal will be the same as any other country is : take best place on this Championship and to fights for the medals ! During the last years Russian handball experienced troubled times and generations changing, but we worked hard to return on the international scene, and the last Olympic games, where our women team won gold , showed that our Federation is moving in the right direction ! I hope in the future men’s  team can repeat this success ! Of course we are really looking forward playing against France in the groupe phase, in front of sold-out arenas with a lot of fans to support them ! They wona lot of titles in the past few years and of course they will try to repeat it!”

The phenomenal action

Dmitry Zhitnokov is one of the bosses in the Russian national team and he showed it in every game in Poland at the last European Champioships. Just take a look at this bowling shoot he took against Germany, which was going to win the competition shortly after. It looks easy, but you have to possess one hell of a wrist to sneak the ball in the bottom corner of the goal after making it go under the defender’s legs ! Technicity and strength all in the same player, that’s the perfect definition for the young Russian !