Milestones and farewells before CologneArticle
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TALKING POINTS: The VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals are now behind us and, before we turn our attention to the FINAL4 in Cologne, there are some interesting discussion points after the last weekend of action
»2017-18 Men's News

Milestones and farewells before Cologne

This season of the VELUX EHF Champions League has been a real pleasure to watch and we are now close to the exciting end. Next up is the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, as the quarter-finals came to an end over the weekend.

Before turning our attention to Cologne, we take a look at some interesting talking points from this weekend’s action.

New chapters written

It is always special when new chapters are written in the history of sports. This year saw two new chapters written in the VELUX EHF Champions League as two teams, HBC Nantes and Montpellier HB, both qualified for their first FINAL4.

The unique moment for Montpellier is even more impressive as they became the first team in the competition’s current format to reach Cologne from Groups C/D.

If that is not a reason to celebrate, we don’t know what is.

Magnificent milestones

Two players will reach an impressive milestone in their careers at the FINAL4 in Cologne. As Nantes will make their first ever appearance, Kiril Lazarov will be part of the event with a fourth different team. He previously made it to the FINAL4 with Ciudad Real, Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona.

Lazarov’s Nantes teammate Dominik Klein will journey to Cologne for the seventh time, after having reached the event on six different occasions with THW Kiel.

If Nantes had lost and Skjern Håndbold reached Cologne, there would have been milestones in their achievement too – the Danish club would have represented the smallest town ever in the FINAL4.

A sad farewell for Anderson

There are milestones and then there are sad goodbyes. That is unfortunately the case for Swedish goalkeeper Mattias Andersson, who has entertained us on the big stage for years.

As SG Flensburg-Handewitt were eliminated by Montpellier HB, Andersson has now played his last international match after an outstanding career. The 40-year-old described the feeling himself in a touching post on social media.

Andersson will be missed on the court but will not say goodbye to the game completely, as he will take on the role of goalkeeper coach for the Austria national team after this season.

Unforgettable moment in the stands

Not only was the clash between HC Vardar and THW Kiel nail-bitingly close and enjoyable to watch as the reigning champions scraped through, but something wonderful happened off the court as well.

A Vardar fan proposed to his girlfriend in the stands, surrounded by fellow supporters of the team. The joy was deep between the two and the happiness after the final whistle must have just added fuel to the fire.

A great moment in a great game.

TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / cg