Handball stars weigh in on VELUX EHF FINAL4
As the biggest event on the club handball calendar each year, the VELUX EHF FINAL4 sees a number of handball’s biggest names, alongside the stars on court, travel to Cologne. Both current and former stars of the game are in the stands watching, participating in fringe events or acting in new roles such as TV expert.
ehfCL.com caught up with a few of the former and current coaches and players present at the 10th edition of the event in Cologne, asking for their thoughts on the VELUX EHF FINAL4.
Alfred Gislason – three-time EHF Champions League winning coach:
“This is really the pinnacle event for our sport. The FINAL4 in Cologne is something absolutely unique. Here our sport is celebrated as nowhere else in the world. I have been here from the very beginning [2010 with THW Kiel]. Each and every time it is a little bit different, but it’s always an incredible experience.”
Lars Christiansen – former SG Flensburg-Handewitt and KIF Kolding wing:
“The FINAL4 is the greatest event in handball you can imagine. For me, it is mainly the best combination of a hard-working weekend and lots of fun. I never enjoyed ‘working’ that much. I find it a pity that I could never join such an event as an active player. Presenting yourself on the field must be indescribable.”
Ivano Balic – two-time IHF World Handball Player of the Year and multiple medallist with Croatia:
“It is a huge event and very good for handball, which is developing in the right direction. The arena is full and people seem to be enjoying. It’s really great!”
Lars Krogh Jeppesen – two-time EHF Champions League winning back:
“The main thing about this event are the fans. They create such an amazing atmosphere with their four corners [in the stadium]. And although it is already the 10th edition, it still works. And not only the fans, but also the press and the players – everyone loves coming here to this arena. It’s just joy. Pure joy. That’s the word I think of when I think about Cologne.”
Anja Althaus – Women’s EHF Champions League ambassador and three-time Champions League winning line player:
“What’s so special about this event is that everyone celebrates and feels handball. All teams fight one year to play here because it is the highlight. For me, the fans’ love and emotions are just incredible and make it even more special. It is also a highlight seeing the big handball family again. That’s always fun.”
Martin Schwalb – TV expert, 2013 Champions League winning coach and former Germany right back:
“It is a special situation for me to be here. When I walk the paths we followed in 2013, when I am standing right now on the field...It was a great time and I enjoyed the honour of winning here. But I am also excited as a handball fan. It is an incredible experience for all handball fans to be here and I think everybody is euphoric.
“My forecast for the final was Barcelona versus Kielce, so my guesses are very useful (laughs)! The clear favourite now is Veszprém because they are also in the form to win this title. But a final is a final and Vardar know how to make it. They feel very comfortable in their outsider role and say to themselves ‘Come on, we can make the next surprise.’ But again, the favourite is Veszprém and I think they will win very clearly.”Author: EHF / cg