A happy Dane in PolandArticle
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Henrik Knudsen sees a lot of reasons to stay at his club Kielce.

A happy Dane in Poland

Henrik Knudsen working in defence in Kielces match against the Rhein Neckar Löwen.If handball fans all over Europe had not heard of a Dane named Henrik Knudsen before, they definitely learned the 27 year old playmaker’s name on October 3rd last year. Then he scored no less than 15 goals when his club, Polish champions KS Vive Kielce, defeated Gorenje Velenje from Slovenia 23-21 in Champions League Group B.

This performance, among others, gave him the nomination for Denmark’s national team at the recent EURO2010. With 32 Champions League goals so far, he has been one of the important profiles in the Kielce team. They have done so well in the EHF Champions League this season, being number three in their group before taking on Rhein-Neckar Löwen on the coming Saturday.

eurohandball.com talked to Knudsen who started his career with Danish KIF Kolding, and who joined Kielce from German 2nd Bundesliga club TV Emsdetten on January 1st 2009.

eurohandball.com: What is the reason for your team’s surprising success in this Champions League season?

Henrik Knudsen: The club carried out some really fine signings prior to this season. On the right back position we contracted Mariusz Jurasik from Rhein Neckar Löwen, then Rastko Stojkovic from Nordhorn as line player, and also the Danish goalkeeper Marcus Cleverly, whom I played with in Emsdetten. This also means that the club has kept all their promise they made to me when we signed a little over a year ago. I have a lot of respect for that.

eurohandball.com: The day all Handball Europe got to know the name Henrik Knudsen, was undoubtedly the day you scored 15 goals against Gorenje Velenje. Do you recall that day?

Henrik Knudsen: Oh yes, I do! It was really one of those days you do not have often. I probably should have played lotto that day too, as everything just went my way. Actually, we were under pressure and being behind most of that game, but all my shots seemed to go in. That of course gave me the courage to try a little more, than I might have done. That way I ended up scoring 15 goals.

eurohandball.com: How far do you think Vive Kielce can go in the Champions League this season?

Henrik Knudsen: Well, we are sure to go on to the knock-out rounds from third position in our group. However, we are still going to meet number one and two at home. So if we can make a smack surprise there, it would be really great.

Of course, I do not know yet who will be our opponent in the 1/8 finals, but if we can at least win one match in the knock-out rounds, we would be really content. Actually, we are pretty content with what we have achieved already!

eurohandball.com: You have played in Denmark, Sweden and Germany before. Is your handball future in Poland, or are you going to travel some more?

Henrik Knudsen: I expect to stay in Poland for at least the next two years. I feel very well here, and the club is also working in a very professional manner. Furthermore, I know that the management is planning further signings in order to reinforce the team even more, so I expect us to get a really strong team within the next couple of years.

eurohandball.com: Many Danish top players who have played abroad for some time are returning to the Danish league these days. Could you imagine yourself returning to Danish handball?

Henrik Knudsen: Yes, I could, but not within the next few years. As I said, I feel fine where I am, but of course, there have been contacts from Danish clubs. However, I have felt as if certain Danish clubs expected me to be so eager to come home that this has been reflected in their offers – so I stay in Poland for now, as I feel really well here.

TEXT: Peter Bruun