Great games in history: Viborg's first victory
Viborg's first win in the Champions League in 2006 was one that could only be described by one word: “battle”. After losing twice in the group phase against Slovenian side Krim Ljubljana the Danes did not look like the the favourites, but they surprised everybody by winning by two goals away in Slovenia in the first leg of the final.
“I remember a very tense game, really tight. I got hit by the ball in the face around the tenth minute, that's something I clearly remember. I pretended it didn't hurt but my head was in fact on fire, and then I could feel all the rage inside of me to push me to win the game,” recalls French goalkeeper Valérie Nicolas, who was guarding Viborg's goal back then.
Facing here was best scorer of the competition that season, left back Nataliya Derepasko. Even though she had already won twice the competition with Krim, in 2001 and 2003, she wanted to win a third one, but things didn't exactly go as planned.
“We weren't good enough in the first game at home, that certainly was the key. But I don't remember much of the details,” she says.
Home ground advantage
After winning 24:22 away, Viborg's biggest task was to keep the advantage on home ground. For the occasion, the game had been moved to Aarhus, in order to gather more than 4,500 spectators. If Derepasko kept quiet that day, only scoring three, the Danes still got close to losing everything.
“When you have a two-goal advantage in handball, that's nothing. They led by two at the break, and the second half was really a battle, each team battling for every ball,” says Nicolas.
It got even closer in the last minute, as Derepasko recalls: “I remember we lost a crucial ball a minute or so before the end in Denmark. And then Astrup scored the goal that cost us the trophy. If we could just close all the gaps in that final attack by the opponents it would be a different memory certainly.”
With seven goals including the winning one, Heidi Astrup was not only the best scorer of the final, but also the hero for all Viborg's fans. Despite losing 20-21, the club won its first European title.
“The celebration afterwards were huge, I remember the fans waiting for us in Viborg, I remember Tomas Ryde wearing a FC Barcelona jersey under his shirt because he thought that was his lucky outfit, that was crazy. I also remember coming back home at 8am in the morning after all the celebrations, having breakfast with Louise Norgaard, not having slept during the night,” recalls Nicolas. For Ljubljana, of course, the flight back home was not so much fun.
Now, both players have retired, but they keep an active eye on handball. Nicolas, in particular, still has bonds with Viborg HK, where Norgaard, a very good friend of hers, is still playing.
“It's not a good thing to compare the two eras. It's different now and maybe a little bit harder for them, even though the club still won two Champions League titles after I left. But I still keep up with what's going on, I follow the club closely on social networks,” she says.
Author: Kevin Domas / jh