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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Former German national team coach is an expert for TV station SKY and predicts a Kiel win against Flensburg on Sunday

Brand still empathising with coaches

Since the beginning of this season, SKY is the official TV partner of the VELUX EHF Champions League in Germany. SKY has composed a team of well-known experts and commentators for their handball coverage, including 2007 Champions League winner and world champion Henning Fritz, Martin Schwalb (coach of 2013 champions HSV Hamburg), former German international Frank von Behren and Heiner Brand.

Brand is one an elite few to be crowned world champion as player (1978) and coach (2007), on both occasions with Germany. From 1997 until 2011 he was head coach of the German men’s team, leading them to EHF EURO gold in 2004, silver at the 2004 Olympic Games, silver at the 2003 World Championship and then gold on home ground in 2007.

Since he resigned from his position as national team coach he still works for the German Handball Federation as a national team manager and is a member of the EHF Nations Board as well as an advisor of the IHF Playing Rules and Referee commission.

Last autumn, Brand launched the next step of his career as an expert and analyst for SKY at matches in the VELUX EHF Champions League. In January, the 62-year-old also worked for SKY at the World Championship in Doha.

In this exclusive interview with, Brand talks about everything his job entails and his prediction for the upcoming all-German Last 16 matches between Flensburg and Kiel. Do you enjoy being an expert and analyst far from the coach’s bench?

Heiner Brand: Yes, this job is really fun. Is feels good to be close to the court again. SKY is doing a real good job in producing the matches and I feel good in my new position. Do you ever feel like returning to the bench?

Heiner Brand: Not at all, not a single second after I decided to retire as a coach. I have other tasks now still connected with handball, but not as a coach anymore, and this is fine for me. Was it hard to prepare for your job as a TV analyst?

Heiner Brand: No, this role is not that hard for me. Being an expert is different to commentating. Martin Schwalb and Henning Fritz are involved in commenting the entire match, while I only give my expert view before the start, at half-time and after the match. Is it strange to criticise your colleagues on the bench?

Heiner Brand: I still can empathise with the coaches and I have the same respect for their work as I had when I was a coach. I always respect their tactical decisions; it is something like a code of honour for me. When I was a coach, I also was upset by some comments of people, who did not work with the team every day and did not understand some things. Do you have to adapt your view on the game to suit the average viewer?

Heiner Brand: Indeed. Sometimes we do not go too deep into details, but present the basics of tactics and handball in general. The SKY viewers are not all handball experts, so we have to take care not to overload our analysis. Sometimes we are explaining more than we are analysing. Next weekend you will be present at the all-German Last 16 duel between defending champions SG Flensburg-Handewitt and beaten finalists THW Kiel. What are your expectations?

Heiner Brand: Kiel will proceed to the quarter-finals. Since the long-term injury to Holger Glandorf, Flensburg are truly weakened in their back court. THW have the better alternatives and more individual class. Are Kiel also your favourites for winning the VELUX EHF Champions League this season?

Heiner Brand: Although a lot of things, such as poor form, injuries or tiredness, can happen before the end of the season, Kiel are my personal favourites. But last season proved that surprises can happen on the way to Cologne and even in Cologne.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor