13 Oct. 2021
It was with great sadness that the IHF learnt about the untimely passing of former North Macedonia women’s national team player Julija Nikolic.
Née Yuliya Ihorivna Portyanko in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, the 38-year-old former player arrived in North Macedonia in 2003, after playing for Ukrainian team Galichanka Lviv.
She spent six years playing for North Macedonian side Kometal Gjorce Petrov, while also becoming a North Macedonian citizen and representing her national team at the IHF Women’s World Championships in 2005 and 2007.
Nikolic was one of the most representative Macedonian players in those tournaments, scoring 15 goals at Russia 2005 and 16 goals at France 2007, but her best performances were at the Women’s EHF EURO 2008, when North Macedonia hosted the competition.
Chipping in with 33 goals, Nikolic helped her side finish seventh, tying North Macedonia’s best-ever result in an international tournament, registered at the 1997 IHF Women’s World Championship.
In total, Nikolic scored 187 goals in 57 games for the North Macedonian women’s national team, playing for the side between 2005 and 2012.
After her stint in Kometal, Nikolic also played for Turkish side Uskudar Belediyespor, French side Arvor 29 – currently known as Brest Bretagne Handball –, Russian powerhouse Zvezda Zvenigorod, before finishing her career in Skopje, at Macedonian champions ZRK Vardar.