Farewell tour and title huntArticle
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NEWS FEATURE: THW shooter Christian Zeitz leaves Kiel after eleven years and may face his next club Veszprém at the VELUX EHF FINAL4

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Men's News

Farewell tour and title hunt

After eleven highly successful years at THW Kiel, Christian Zeitz is currently having his "farewell tour“. On Sunday he played his last EHF Champions League home match for the three-time winners and added for goals to the 34:26 quarter-final win over Metalurg Skopje as they qualifed for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 once again. Now Zeitz is eagerly awaiting the draw event on Tuesday in Cologne – as the chances are 33% that he and THW Kiel will face Zeitz’s next club, Hungarian side MVM-MKB Veszprém.

Zeitz, nicknamed “the hammer”, as for every goal he scores the German song “So geht der Hammer” (Here goes the hammer) is played, has high ambitions for his final weeks in Kiel – and he proved why he has his nickname by hammering in one shot with a speed of 111 kilometres per hour on Sunday.

While THW qualified for the tenth time for a semi-final of the EHF Champions League, the VELUX EHF FINAL4 will be the seventh semi-final and the fourth event in Cologne for Zeitz, who was – as only one of four players – part of all winning squads for Kiel (2007, 2010, 2012).

The 33-year-old left-handed right back arrived 2003 in Kiel – and currently he does not feel any melancholy being on his farewell tour: “Melancholy will come, when the last match of the season is over. Currently the tension is too high, as we are still fighting for two titles – becoming German champions and winning the VELUX EHF Champions League. Personally and as a team our goals are always set high,” the seven-time German champion and 2007 world champion, who quit playing for the national team in 2008, says. In his eleven seasons in Kiel, Zeitz has won 20 national and international titles with THW.

In summer 2013 Zeitz announced his transfer to Veszprém from the 2014/15 season, and the Hungarian side even tried to get him directly to Balaton Lake, but failed. Now both sides have made it to Cologne, Kiel for the fourth time, Veszprém on their maiden voyage – and the draw event on Tuesday will decide whether Zeitz will face his future club, where he signed a three-year contract, in the semi-finals.

“To face Veszprém would not be Kiel’s and my first choice for the semi, but at this stage there’s no wishing for anymore,” Zeitz says, and jokes: “I would have liked to face Vardar Skopje, but that’s impossible now.”

In the Bundesliga, THW are second ranked at the moment, level on points with Rhein Neckar Löwen, but with a weaker goal difference: “We can win both titles, but for me personally it would an absolutely brilliant last match for THW Kiel, if we would win the final in Cologne on 1 June. This trophy would be some absolutely special, as it would be fully unexpected after the huge transition before the start of this season.”

His coach Alfred Gislason, shares this opinion: “We are in Cologne, which is great, but we are anything but the favourites.”

Facing Veszprém would also mean to face Zeitz’s former teammate Momir Ilic, who transferred to the Hungarian side last summer – and is the second best Champions League scorer at the moment.

“I will not have a thought about Veszprém until the start of the preparation – the only exception is, if we compete in the semi-final with them. Then I will start working on them from Tuesday on, but from a different point of view - not as my future club, but as my opponent. As long as I am in Kiel, I only focus on THW – as there are still some titles to be won,” concluded Zeitz.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor