Legends, heroes, stars – and a lot of handball glamourArticle
«Go back

Every year the VELUX EHF FINAL4 becomes a melting pot for the world of handball and LANXESS arena welcomes the ‘who is who’ of the sport.

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's News

Best of the best from present and past gather in Cologne

Every year the VELUX EHF FINAL4 becomes a melting pot for the world of handball and LANXESS arena welcomes the ‘who  is who’ of the sport. In 2016 a number of former players, coaches and officials meet in Cologne to network, analyse, see and be seen.

Four VELUX EHF Champions League legends were officially invited by the European Handball Federation and EHF Marketing: Marcin Lijewski, Iker Romero, Lars Christiansen and Stefan Lövgren played a part in the first opening show on Saturday when they presented the trophy on court.

“It is always great to be back in Cologne. The atmosphere is simply brilliant; the fans go off like fireworks in the stands. This is handball at its best,” said Lövgren.

The former Swedish international and THW Kiel player never contested the VELUX EHF FINAL4, which was implemented after his retirement, but was the official ambassador of the EHF Champions League in the past. Lijewski won the competition in 2013 with HSV Hamburg, Romero topped the podium in 2011 with FC Barcelona – and there were many other former winners who had different roles in LANXESS arena.

Former HSV Hamburg head coach Martin Schwalb, former goalkeeper Henning Fritz, who won the EHF Champions League in 2007 with THW Kiel, and former Germany head coach Heiner Brand all work as experts for TV broadcaster Sky.

“Kiel could have won the game after 60 minutes, but in extra time Veszprém had the psychological momentum in their favour. I’m looking forward to a final we have not seen before,” said Schwalb, who led Hamburg to the trophy in 2013 after beating Barcelona in extra time.

Former Kiel, Flensburg and Barcelona player Lars Krogh Jeppesen works as an expert for Danish TV, while 2011 and 2015 VELUX EHF FINAL4 winner Danijel Saric – who will leave FC Barcelona after this season – works for beIN SPORTS.

Francois Xavier Houlet, a former French international and EHF Cup winner with Gummersbach, works together with Saric, and praises the VELUX EHF FINAL4: “This is the temple of handball.”

Also in Cologne, as a live commentator and expert for Radio France, is PSG right back Xavier Barachet, who is missing the event due to injury. Sitting next to him is Frode Scheie, working for Scandinavian TV station Viasat.

The Norwegian – a former THW Kiel goalkeeper – was surprised that Paris lost the semi-final: “I don’t understand why coach Noka Serdarusic kept Mikkel Hansen on the bench for such a long time – unbelievable,” he said.

Another current player is getting a taste of the event: “This atmosphere is great, amazing,” said Germany’s EHF EURO 2016 hero Andreas Wolff.

The goalkeeper is visiting LANXESS arena for the first time this weekend, even though he was born only 30 kilometres away. “I’m not surprised that Kielce made it to the final. When it counted Slawomir Szmal was there, and they deserved to win. I really hope to be part of this event in the next years when I transfer to Kiel.”

TEXT: Iris Magerl