Goalkeeping excellence clearly runs in the Handanovic family genes. Jasmin might play second fiddle to Samir, his younger cousin and Slovenia’s No1 choice, but the 32-year-old proved to be an extremely able deputy whenever called upon. It was Handanovic Snr, in fact, who kept goal for two of Slovenia’s group matches during qualifying for South Africa 2010, helping to secure a 0-0 draw against Czech Republic before going down to a 1-0 defeat away to Northern Ireland.
His international debut had come just a year earlier when, at the age of 30, he turned out for Slovenia for the first time in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Sweden. Much of the time since has been spent on the bench, but Handanovic – at 6ft 5ins – is a powerful penalty box presence and can be considered a safe pair of hands should he be required in South Africa.
Like his younger cousin, the Ljubljana-born keeper plays his club football in Italy, having spent the last three seasons with Serie B outfit Mantova. Handanovic made the switch to Mantova in 2007 after spending the earlier years of his career with Olimpija, Zivila Triglav and Koper in his homeland. Three Slovenian Cups, one with Olimpija in 2000 and two with Koper in 2006 and 2007, have been the highlights of a club career that, while distinguished, hasn’t exactly grabbed the headlines thus far. All that could change, however, if Handanovic can unseat his cousin at South Africa 2010, and with Chievo among a clutch of higher-profile clubs rumoured to be monitoring his progress, an impressive showing could be his ticket to the big time.