Toft Hansens aiming for two European titlesArticle
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INTERVIEW: Danish internationals René and Henrik Toft Hansen are both involved in European final tournaments this month
»2014-15 Men's News

Toft Hansens aiming for two European titles

Brothers René and Henrik Toft Hansen have plenty in common, apart from both being handball players.

Not only are they brothers in arms in the Danish national team, where the two line players often play together in the centre of defence, but they are also both involved in final weekends in the two biggest European club competitions in men’s handball this season.

30-year-old René Toft Hansen is looking forward to his fourth VELUX EHF FINAL4 with THW Kiel in Cologne’s LANXESS arena on 30/31 May, while 28-year-old Henrik plays in the Men’s EHF Cup Finals at the Max-Schmeling-Halle of Berlin this weekend with another northern German club, HSV Hamburg.

Quite obviously, the brothers who come out of a large Danish handball family are hoping to take two titles back to their clubs and to the Toft Hansen family.

“That would be huge. Neither of us has ever won a major European title with our club teams, so it would be big if we both made it within the same season,” says Renè, whose younger brother Henrik will be the only one of them who can look forward to getting support from the rest of the Toft Hansen family from the tribunes.

“Of course, it would be great if we could take both titles, but unfortunately, the family cannot be present at both events, so they will be coming to Berlin to support me, while René will have to feel their support from the TV at home,” explains Henrik.

Good chance for Kiel, tough for Hamburg

One thing is hoping for two titles, another thing is actually getting them.

If you ask the two how each of them sees his brother’s chances of lifting the trophy, Henrik obviously sees his older brother’s as better than René sees his.

“I see Kiel’s chances as good. They are a team you should always watch out for. Now he (René) has got a fourth, a third and a second place in Cologne, so I really want him to go all the way this time. I hope and believe that this is the year they do it.

René is not quite as optimistic on behalf on brother Henrik and Hamburg’s chances.

“It will be difficult. Hamburg have had an inconsistent season this year. In the semi-final, they will be facing Skjern, who have played very well in the Danish play-offs recently, and if they should reach the final, they are likely to run into Berlin who will have the home advantage.

“That will be two very tough matches for Hamburg, but if they hit their top form we will see the team that have enjoyed great results this season as well, so anything is possible,” says René, who does not quite share his little brother’s confidence in Kiel.

“Of course, we are very keen on winning the FINAL4, not least after losing the final last year, but it will be very difficult.

“To me, all four teams are favourites. We are talking about the four strongest teams in Europe, the four winners from the group phase. It is going to be a fantastic weekend and in my opinion it is impossible to predict the winner.”

Quite naturally, Henrik is just as keen as René on winning a title, but he does not see his Hamburg team as favourites in the Max-Schmeling-Halle.

“HSV is a club who will always want to play for titles. As everything is going to be decided within a weekend, it has a lot to do with hitting your form on the day, but we feel that we have a good chance against Skjern, although we will have to be good in order to win. After that, another hard match will be awaiting us. I would say that Berlin are favourites, as they are playing at home.” 

Last chance to win a title with Hamburg

For Henrik, the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin will be his last chance to win a title with HSV.

After this season, he moves to another northern German club, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, on a three-year contract.

“As I got the request from Flensburg, my girlfriend Ulrika (Swedish international Ulrika Agren) and I did not have to consider it for long. SG is a great club with passionate fans and a great coach, and all this is even near my home,” Henrik told Flensburg’s official website, as his transfer was announced.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor