Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday congratulated his country's world-champion national handball team for offering a "colossal image of Spain" abroad, showing that "one need never become pessimistic."

Rajoy, who on Monday received the players, coaches and other members of the team that won the 2013 Men's Handball World Championship, thanked the team for the "joy" they had brought to Spaniards.

The competition was held in Spain.

The squad provided an example of the "spirit of prevailing, courage and determination" and - above all - "never surrendering in the face of difficulties," he said.

"Spain in crisis is the world handball champion and Spain is also going to overcome the (economic) crisis and therefore is going to continue being not only the world champion but also the Olympic champion in Rio de Janeiro," the prime minister said.

Although he has never played, Rajoy said he has always been interested in following handball, calling it "a sport for strong people and for noble people" and adding that he would like to see his two sons, ages 7 and 13, take up the sport. EFE