Jicha leaves Kiel for BarcelonaArticle
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NEWS FEATURE: Two-time VELUX EHF Champions League winner signs four-year contract at defending champions

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Jicha leaves Kiel for Barcelona

After eight successful years, Filip Jicha and THW Kiel go their separate ways. The Czech international – two-time VELUX EHF Champions League winner in 2010 and 2012 and awarded World Handball Player of the Year 2010 – signed a four-year contract at defending champions FC Barcelona Lassa, as confirmed by both clubs on Tuesday.

Kiel released their team captain despite a contract valid until 2016. At the Catalans, Jicha will replace Nikola Karabatic, who signed for Paris Saint-Germain last month. After Aron Palmarsson, who transferred to 2015 finalists Veszprem, another top back court player has left THW. In 2014, THW players Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson and Wael Jallouz had transferred to Barcelona.

Jicha was team captain of the Zebras for the past two seasons. He arrived at Kiel in 2007 from German side TBV Lemgo. Previously the Pilsen born left back had played in Switzerland, Qatar and Saudi-Arabia.

In 2010 he was Most Valuable Player and top scorer of the EHF EURO in Austria. In addition, the tall shooter was part of several all-star teams at club and national team level, including his nomination for the 20 years of EHF Champions league All-stars, which were unveiled at the 2014 VELUX EHF FINAL4.

Burden of the Bundesliga

In Cologne, Jicha led THW to two titles in 2010 (in the final against his new club Barcelona) and 2012 (in the final against Atletico Madrid). No player scored more often at Cologne than the 33-year-old Jicha. In addition, the Czech was top scorer of the EHF Champions League twice in 2008/09 and 2009/10.

“I am absolutely thankful for those eight years I spent for this unique club,” Jicha was quoted in a press release of THW: “I could experience my best ever moments on court with Kiel and I was proud to be the captain of this squad.”

Currently Jicha is injured, but due to Spanish media he passed the medical check at FC Barcelona Lassa without problems. “I feel the spurs of the hard burden playing the Bundesliga for such a long time. At Barcelona it is easier to recover and I will have more time for my family,” Jicha said, who thanked THW for releasing him from his contract: “I will keep the club and the city always in my mind.”

“It was a hard decision for us to release Jicha and to fulfill his wish and request to leave Kiel,” THW manager Thorsten Storm said, adding: “Filip is a great sportsman, who gave everything he had for THW; we tried to do everything we could.”

Whether Kiel will sign a replacement for Jicha or not is unclear. THW had signed young German international Christian Dissinger for the upcoming season as additional left back and in 2016 Austrian Nykola Bilyk (MVP of the Men's 20 EHF EURO last summer) will arrive in Kiel for the same position.  “All players have to give more to fill the gap created by Jicha’s transfer,” added Storm.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor