Eggert: "I already have more energy"Article
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: Danish star winger Anders Eggert talks about the reasons he is taking a national team break and what can turn the season into a successful one despite Flensburg's Last 16 exit from the VELUX EHF Champions League

»EHF Euro Events Channel »2013-14 Men's News

Eggert: "I already have more energy"

Problems seem to be mounting for Denmark's national team coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson less than a year after the former Icelandic international took over from Ulrik Wilbek.

Key players such as Michael V. Knudsen, Thomas Mogensen and Kasper Sondergaard have either announced that they are not going to play anymore for the national team or that they need at least a break.

Most recently Anders Eggert joined the queue of players standing at the exit door of the national team.

After 12 years during which he played 140 internationals and scored 522 goals, the 32-year-old left wing from SG Flensburg-Handewitt announced that he needs a break of indefinite length.

In this Interview of the Week he talks about the reasons, Flensburg's Last 16 exit in the VELUX EHF Champions League and hints that a comeback in the Danish national team is a possibility. Has it been a difficult decision for you to announce that national team break?

Anders Eggert: Yes, very difficult, but it sounds more dramatic than intended. My idea was to take a break from one or two national team get-togethers at first, but when I spoke with the coach, it became clear that you cannot just be on and off as you please, and I understand that very well.

Therefore, it all got to sound a bit more categorical than it should have. And if I'm still good enough at the time I feel more up to it, I hope to return at some point, of course.

It has been a tough decision, though. I have played in the national team for more than ten years and enjoyed it, but I simply need this break now. My daughter is two years now, and we have another child coming, so I simply cannot cope playing for the national team along with my club anymore. Several other key players like Michael V. Knudsen, Thomas Mogensen and Kasper Sondergaard have quit the national team recently or announced a break as well. Has this made your decision even harder, knowing that your break would weaken the team even further?

Anders Eggert: No, I didn't really look at this. I had to think about my own situation. Several people have asked me, if I had been inspired by Thomas Mogensen (who also plays for SG Flensburg-Handewitt) who left the national team last year. He has been playing brilliantly since then, but I haven't really been inspired by him either.

However, I hope that I can benefit as much from my break, as he has from his. As a matter of fact, I already feel that I’ve got more energy and motivation just by having made the decision! Do you think that there are too many matches, if you play in the national team along with a club at European top level?

Anders Eggert: Of course, we have a tight schedule. If you look at the World Championships or European Championships in football for example, the teams have four to five days between matches, while handball players play every second day at similar events. We do play many matches, but it is mainly the journeys that drain you.

If we played all our Bundesliga matches at home, the high number of matches would be no problem. But in the Bundesliga, you have some long journeys in between, spending at least one night in a hotel.

If I add up all my hotel stays for Bundesliga, Champions League and national team journeys together, I would say that I spend one third of all nights per year in a hotel bed. Even though you asked for this break, I suppose the national still has a place in your heart. How do you see Denmark´s chances to qualify for the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland?

Anders Eggert: Having won at home against Lithuania and away against Bosnia-Herzegovina, I think we – I hope it's okay that I still say we – are in a very good position in our group.

Winning against Bosnia-Herzegovina in particular has brought us very close to qualifying. We should be able to win the home matches against Belarus and them and that probably also applies to the away match against Lithuania.

The match at Belarus will be difficult, but the prospects of qualifying as group winners are very good. Whom do you see as your successor in the national team? Casper U. Mortensen is already there, of course, but who can be his 'colleague' on the left wing?

Anders Eggert: I think Niklas Landin's younger brother, Magnus Landin from KIF Kolding Kobenhavn is an interesting coming player in that position.

He is still young, of course, and hardly past the junior national team yet. But he's a bit of the same player type as Swedish international Jonas Källman – a tall person of which we do not have many on the wings. Last year to the surprise of many, you won the VELUX EHF Champions League with Flensburg. How high does that achievement rank on your list of triumphs that also includes winning the EHF EURO 2012?

Anders Eggert: It ranks very high. It sits together with becoming European champions. Actually, I think you can compare those two titles a lot. In my opinion, the European Championship is the greatest you can win on national team level, next to the Olympics.

In the same way, the Champions League is the biggest competition you can win on club level, and the fact that we were underdogs and really came from behind made that triumph even bigger.

However, there have been many triumphs to which I look back with pleasure. For instance, it was also very big for me the first time I became Danish champion – with GOG Svendborg back in 2004. Did it therefore hurt in particular that you are out of the VELUX EHF Champions League already after two clear losses to Kiel in the Last 16?

Anders Eggert: It always hurts to lose, but it does not hurt more or less just because we won last year. We knew all the time that with our budget, compared to some of the other teams in the Champions League, we will always be underdogs. And the many injured players we had to deal with have, of course, made it even more difficult for us.

We were hoping to come at second in the group phase as this probably would have given us the chance to reach the quarter-finals. However, at that point, we would have run into Kiel or a team of that level, so we might have only got one round further than we actually did. But as I said, it always hurts to lose, no matter what the situation is. So what will it take now to make Flensburg´s season successful as you see it?

Anders Eggert: We want to reach that third place in the Bundesliga and we are fighting hard for it to do so. We also want to be successful in the German Cup in which we face Rhein-Neckar Löwen in the semi-final. We defeated them in the semi-final last year, only to lose the final, so winning the Cup and qualifying for the Champions League would make our season just perfect. Your current contract with Flensburg is valid until 2017. Have you thought about the time after?

Anders Eggert: No, not really. That is still far ahead, and a lot can happen in the meantime. At that time our first child will be four years old, and it might be time to think about school and such things when deciding about a new contract.

However, I'm sure that I won't be finishing my career then. Some people have already asked me that question, but that is definitely not my intention. Would playing in the Danish league be a possibility?

Anders Eggert: Yes, absolutely. I will definitely not rule out the possibility of ending my career in Denmark, just like I won't rule out the possibility of prolonging my stay in Flensburg – although returning to Denmark would probably be good for prolonging my career. Is continuing your career in another foreign club out of question?

Anders Eggert: Yes, I'm almost sure it is. Maybe my wife and I might be tempted by the adventure of going somewhere completely different for a couple of years, but I actually do not consider it likely. As it is, Flensburg is enough of a foreign adventure for me!

TEXT: Peter Bruun / me