RSV Lahn-Dill has recently announced the signing of GB centre, Ian Sagar. He is set to make his debut in the RBBL next season after departing Italian side, SBS Bergamo. The Barnsley native has had an established career in the sport since he started playing in 2006. His most notable achievements thus far include his seven-year dominance with Italian powerhouse, Briantea84 Cantu where he won five FIPIC league, cup and playoff championships. He spoke with Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings to discuss how he hopes to take his game to the next level with Lahn-Dill prior to Tokyo.
Why did you choose to sign for Lahn-Dill next season?
“Lahn-Dill is the most prestigious wheelchair basketball club in the world. They have built a culture of excellence by always remaining at the top of the game. Going there was a no brainer for me.”
How did this contract come about?
“I have spoken to Lahn-Dill briefly over the years, but it was never the right time. This time however, when Janet Zeltinger contacted me, everything fell into place and thankfully the deal was finalised.”
What are your thoughts on Janet Zeltinger’s coaching style?
“I can’t wait to be coached by Janet. During our video calls, she has told me exactly what she and the team expect from me and I’m sure I can deliver on this for her and the team. A clear and concise set of instructions is all any player wants. I believe I will get that from Janet and I’m really looking forward to working with her. I’ve already been given some homework (video analysis) before I meet up with the team so hopefully, I will be up to speed by the time I arrive, and I can fit into the team’s dynamic straight away.”
How will playing in the RBBL with Lahn-Dill benefit your style of play?
“My style of play has always been to push the floor, get inside and finish off. I’ve always liked the rough and tough side of the game and with Lahn-Dill in the RBBL, it’s the perfect place to use those skills to the best of my ability.”
How do the styles of play differ between Germany and Italy?
“The pace of play in Italy as a whole is a lot slower, relying on structure and tactics to open up opportunities and chances to score. In Germany, speed and strength play a bigger roll with big guys (centres) having more responsibility to score. This is the perfect scenario for me.”
How will playing at Lahn-Dill benefit your game prior to Tokyo?
“A major motive pushing me to join Lahn-Dill was playing in a strong championship before Tokyo, playing week-in-week-out with world-class teammates and against world-class opposition will help get me back to the top of my game prior to Tokyo!”
What new challenges do you think you will face whilst playing in the RBBL with Lahn-Dill?
“Obviously, playing in a new country, culture and championship will bring new challenges alongside it. However, I am excited to experience everything. The RBBL is known for its tough style of play and the championship this year looks to be shaping up to be one of the most competitive yet. I can’t wait to get going.”
You have come so close to winning the Champions Cup in recent years, do you think you can finally capture the Cup with Lahn-Dill?
“That’s the idea! I have played in a couple of finals but never won the Champions Cup. Being a part of this new team gives me another opportunity to go for the Cup that has eluded me in my career thus far. The team looks good this year, with a great mentality, all of this together means we should have a great Champions Cup run. Hopefully this season is our season!”
How excited are you to play in front of the passionate Lahn-Dill fans?
“The fans at Lahn-Dill are indeed incredibly passionate, and I hope that I get chance to play in front of them all in all their glory. The sixth man really does make a difference and there is no better sixth man than the one at Lahn-Dill home games!”
Are you excited to be back on the same team as your former Cantu teammate, Brian Bell?
“Oh yes, Brian is one of the best guys, on court, off court with a great family and wife whom I’ve missed ever since they left Cantu. It’s going to be great be seeing them all again and picking up where we left off.”
How have you coped with lockdown?
“Lockdown has not been too bad for me and my family, luckily we have a ground floor apartment with a decent garden, so we have space to spread out a little. With two teenagers and a baby it’s been a bit of a mad house at times! I’ve really appreciated the extended time I’ve had with my nine-month-old son, William. During this time, he has been my silver lining. Thankfully things are slowly returning back to normal, but we all must be aware that things cannot return fully to how they were. I’ve personally known people who have had the virus and been severely ill in hospital and also someone who lost their life. If we’re sensible and follow guidelines that the experts set out for us hopefully, we can prevent another outbreak from happening and continue to live our lives without this fear hanging over us.”
How does your family feel about having to relocate to Germany?
“Unfortunately, my family won’t be moving to Germany with me. My daughter has school commitments and my eldest son has just been selected for the senior team at his football club. So, I will be making frequent trips back home to Italy to see them all. It will be tough, but it’s only an hour’s flight and I’m sure we can make it work.”
What do you miss about the UK when you are abroad?
“Honestly, very little. With technology and video calling no-one’s ever very far away, so I’m always in the loop with all the current situations. I do feel sorry that my youngest son is growing up far away from his grandparents and it has already been six months since they were together, and he has changed ever so much in that time. One aspect I really do miss though, which might sound strange because I’m living in Italy where food is king, but I do miss a good old Sunday Roast Dinner. I find myself craving one often! I’m training my wife up to make them just as good as my mum does.”
How do you think German culture will differ from British and Italian culture?
“I’m very excited to experience German culture. I’m a very organised person, planning things well in advance with contingency plans for every eventual outcome. This remains true for German culture as a whole, just look at how well the COVID-19 situation was handled. Coming straight from a, let’s say, more emotional culture in Italy, it’s going to be a big difference, but a welcomed one at that.”
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
“It’s not a coincidence that the hardest working players are the best players.” – John Robinson, Coach at Sheffield Steelers.
Has anyone specifically influenced you to play the way that you do?
“Simon Munn was the guy I based my game on. The first time I was invited to a GB camp I saw this big brute smashing his way into the key and nobody was able to stop him. It left a big impression on me. I hoped to be ‘as good as him someday.”
If you could do a training session with three other players from around the world to improve your skills, who would you choose and why?
“Simon Munn, Joey Johnson and Matteo Cavanini. In my opinion, they are the three best centres of all-time, to be part of that group in a training session can only make you a better player and person.”
You have been playing at the highest level since 2009, how much longer do you see yourself competing at this level?
“For as long as my shoulders allow me to. As a professional athlete you get used to handling and living in pain but there will come a point when your body just says no more! Hopefully that time is a long way off for me yet.”
Finish this sentence. Ian Sagar will help bring success to Lahn-Dill by…
“…giving everything I’ve got every time I’m on the floor.”
Thanks for your time mate!
Rollt. would like to thank Ian Sagar for the interview!
Ian Sagar Profile:
Date of Birth: 29/03/1982 (aged 38)
Hometown: Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Started playing: 2006
GB senior debut: 2009 European Championships – Adana, Turkey
Disability: Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
Current Club: RSV Lahn-Dill, GER (starting 2020)
- Sheffield Steelers, GBR (2006-07)
- The OWLS, GBR (2007-09, 2011-12)
- Fuhnpain Perdula Toledo, ESP (2009-11)
- UniPol Sai Briantea84 Cantu, ITA (2012-19)
- SBS Bergamo, ITA (2019-20)
- 2009 Men’s European Championships – Adana, Turkey – Bronze (GB)
- 2010 World Championships – Birmingham, GB – 5th (GB)
- 2011 European Championships – Nazareth, Israel – Gold (GB)
- 2012 Paralympic Games – London, GB – 4th (GB)
- 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 FIPIC League Champions (Cantu)
- 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 FIPIC Cup Champions (Cantu)
- 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 FIPIC Playoff Champions (Cantu)
- 2013 Andre Vergauwen Cup (Cantu)
- 2013 European Championships – Frankfurt, Germany – Gold (GB)
- 2014 Men’s World Championships – Incheon, South Korea – 7th (GB)
- 2015 European Championships – Worcester, GB – Gold (GB)
- 2016 Paralympic Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Bronze (GB)
- 2019 Men’s European Championships – Walbrzych, Poland – Gold (GB)
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl