Kim Andersson is back – but for how long?Article
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: Kim Andersson has returned to the Swedish national team and will take to the court in the Olympic qualification in April. In this interview he explains what made him come back and why he – despite his long-term shoulder injury – will never stop shooting

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Kim Andersson is back – but for how long?

The career of Kim Andersson is a true back and forth-affair.

On more than one occasion the 33-year-old announced his farewell of the national team, last time just about a year ago after the World Championship 2015 in Qatar - but now he is back again.

The Ystads IF right back had publicly indicated an interest to return and when national team coaches Staffan Olsson and Ola Lindgren announced their squad for the Olympic qualifiers against Spain, Slovenia and Iran in Malmö from April 8 to 10, the former VELUX EHF Champions League winner and Olympic silver medallist was among the names on the list.

Andersson, who has scored 776 goals in his 219 games for Sweden so far, is looking forward to his comeback, but he is by no means sure how long it will last. What made you decide to return to the national team once again?
Kim Andersson: The fact that I’m in good shape at the moment, physically as well as mentally, so when I was asked, it was natural for me to say ‘yes’. I realise that I have said ‘goodbye’ to the national team three or four times already, but that has mainly been due to injury, for instance at the World Championship in Qatar, where my shoulder injury trouble me again. It has to feel right, and it does now. Does this mean that your shoulder, which has bothered you more or less for three years, is completely OK again?
Kim Andersson: Yes, I would say so. Of course, there can be days, like for instance now, as we are playing the EHF Cup and the Swedish Elitserie, when the shoulder still feels a bit overloaded, but those days are exceptions. In general, my shoulder is fine. Lately, you have been shooting much more than you have been doing for the past four years, and you have also scored a lot more goals for Ystad. Are you never afraid of your shoulder troubling you again?
Kim Andersson: No, and I came to a point where I realised that if I was going to go on playing handball, shooting would have to be part of it. Many people told me: ‘You are still a great handball player, even without shooting, and you can still make your brilliant passes to the line player and the wings.’

However, this was exactly what I could not do. If I could not shoot, the opponents would soon find out and have a much easier job blocking my passes to the line players and the wings. Shooting is an essential part of my game, and therefore, I’m happy that I can shoot again. Considering that your shoulder is OK again, do you regret leaving KIF Kolding Kobenhavn for Ystad last summer?
Kim Andersson: I do miss KIF Kolding Kobenhavn and my teammates there, and I’m still following the team, especially in the Champions League. However, it has also been great to come home to Ystad, where I have my family, and where I’m close to my friends. Ystad has always been the club I had in my heart, so it is great to be here. Has it been a big change for you returning to Swedish handball after all those years at European top clubs?
Kim Andersson: It took me a bit of time to get into the daily routine at Ystad, especially regarding the training. In Kolding we had much more physical training, as a team and individually, than we have in Ystad where we focus more on training with the ball.

We also had great handball training sessions in Kolding, but the physical training had more of a priority there. That is probably the most significant difference. Can you stay in national team form in the Swedish league?
Kim Andersson: You have a point there. The Swedish league is considerably behind the Danish league in which I played for the past three years. We do have some promising young talents in the domestic league, like for instance my teammate Lukas Nilsson, who is probably one of the biggest talents in Swedish handball, but like so many other talents, he is leaving after this season, in his case for THW Kiel at the age of only 19. At the moment, you are playing the EHF Cup Group Phase with Ystad. What is that like for you after all these years you played in the EHF Champions League?
Kim Andersson: I like playing the EHF Cup. It gives me the chance to experience the international atmosphere once again. Furthermore, I can see how much it means to the development of our many young players who were very excited ahead of this season’s EHF Cup as it marked the club’s European debut.

There is such a big difference between playing in the Swedish Elitserie, where you may be playing in the same arena for the tenth time in your career already at 21 – and playing in, for instance, Romania and you never know what awaits you! Such things give experience. Of course, I also like the EHF Cup because we have done very well so far, and we have our further fate in the competition in our own hands now. Back to the national team. Sweden won Olympic silver in London in 2012. What does it mean to you to have the chance to qualify for Rio 2016?
Kim Andersson: Of course, it would mean a lot to me, as I’m sure it would to each and everyone in the team. The Olympics are simply the greatest experience to any athlete. Has the chance to play the Rio Olympics played a role in your decision to stage a comeback?
Kim Andersson: Actually, it played only a very small part. Right now, I’m focusing entirely on the qualifiers. I clearly remember the qualifiers in 2012, when we played at home in Gothenburg, and all the hype there was around those matches. We had 12 to 15,000 spectators for all three matches, and the atmosphere was simply fantastic. I’m looking forward to experiencing something similar in Malmö in April! How do you rate the chances to qualify?
Kim Andersson: I think they are pretty good. Of course, it is a tough group, especially with Spain in it, the EURO finalists, but over time Sweden have played good games against Spain as well as against Slovenia, so I definitely believe we can take one of the two tickets for Rio. Are you back in the national team for good now?
Kim Andersson: Time and experience have taught me not to plan too far ahead anymore. Right now, I’m only focusing on those three qualification matches, then we will have to see. I’m really looking forward to my comeback, but I also have to feel that I can really contribute, if I continue to play. I do not want to be nominated just because my name is Kim Andersson, and because I might have been good 10 years ago!

TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts