Mogensen: “It will be special and emotional”Article
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: Skjern’s Thomas Mogensen is looking forward to Sunday's Match of the Week, his return to the Flens-Arena for the first time since leaving SG Flensburg-Handewitt this summer

Mogensen: “It will be special and emotional”

The last time Thomas Mogensen played in the Flens-Arena was on 3 June when he and his teammates from SG Flensburg-Handewitt won the German Bundesliga title on the last day of the season.

On Sunday, the centre back he will be back in the arena that was his home ground for 11 years.

Together with another former Flensburg player and current Skjern Handbold star, Anders Eggert, Mogensen and Skjern are meeting Flensburg in the Match of Week (live on of VELUX EHF Champions League Round 6.

A special occasion, as the 35-year-old former Danish international admits to What will it be like for you to be back in the Flens-Arena?

Mogensen: “There is no doubt in my mind that it will be special, and it will be emotional. After all, I have played half my handball life in Flensburg, and it is a club that has really got under my skin and a club where I have celebrated so many triumphs, but also had a few disappointments.” How do you think you will be received by the crowd?

Mogensen: “I hope and believe it will be positive. After all, we parted ways as friends on 3 June as we won the German championship and I was admitted into the Hall of Fame of the club.” What is your greatest memory from your many years in Flensburg?

Mogensen: “Of course, winning the Champions League with the club in 2014 stands out as the greatest title for me. However, as we won the German championship last season for the first time during my stay with the club and even on my last day at the club, this also stands out as something very special to me. That was really an emotional day.” After all this, what has it been like to join Skjern?

Mogensen: “It has been really good in a lot of ways. I definitely did not leave Flensburg because I was tired of being there, but because I felt that I needed a change from the busy daily schedule with many long journeys and lots of time away from home. In that respect, joining Skjern has been really good for me, as I feel that I have got the energy back to really make an effort, as I have the necessary time to rest between matches now. At the same time, I am still playing in a top team and a team which can even get close to winning against Paris. I do not think many people were expecting that from us.” You have been European champion with Denmark in 2012 and won the VELUX EHF Champions League and the Bundesliga with Flensburg. What is keeping you ambitious?

Mogensen: “When I decided to leave Flensburg, I realised that I would have to take a minor step down in my career for the first time ever. Since I played my first Danish league game for Viborg, my career has gone upwards all the time, so I had to prepare myself for a small step down the ladder. In this respect, I can also say that I have landed in the right place by joining Skjern, not only because the club plays the Champions League, but also because the Champions League is considered to be so big here. Playing against the greatest teams in the world in one of the top groups is really seen as the biggest you can imagine here. The chance to play Paris in Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, or to play in Nantes are obviously some of those experiences which keep me going.” You really have been on fire in your latest matches in the Champions League and the Danish league. Is that a sign that you are only really beginning to fit in with your teammates now?

Mogensen: “In fact, I think it went really well for me already in our first league match of the season, away against GOG. Soon after, however, I was injured and was missed four matches due to shoulder problems. When I came back from that injury, it took me some time to get my game going again. When you have new teammates, when you have to adapt to a new playing concept, and when you may even have problems shooting because of a sore shoulder, things can get rather troublesome. Lately, however, I feel that I have really been back on track again.” What do you think about Skjern’s performance in the Champions League so far, with five points after the first five matches?

Mogensen: “I think we can only be content, not least considering that fact that we have been missing several key players for virtually all the matches. Kasper Søndergaard, Jesper Konradsson and I have all been out for several matches, and at the moment, Bjarte Myrhol is out, while René Rasmussen has been out all season. Those are all key players whom you would expect to play every match in order for us to be successful. Even under those conditions, we have managed to do as well as we have. I think that is impressive.” Do you see a chance of repeating the achievement from last season, when Skjern reached the quarter-final?

Mogensen: “I would definitely not rule out the possibility. I think we have a very strong team, where every player knows his role. For the last part of the group phase, Bjarte Myrhol will return from injury, and later, we will also have René (Rasmussen) back. Sebastian (Augustinussen) has done a great job so far, but he is the only right wing at the moment, and having two players in that position too will be a reinforcement. On the other hand, I think the top teams around Europe have found out by now that we can actually play handball here in Skjern. I am quite sure that Veszprém did not exactly expect Skjern to be the team to send them out of the Champions League last year. But this year, our opponents have been warned, so it may be harder this time.” How do you see your team’s chances against Flensburg on Sunday?

Mogensen: “It is certainly not one of those matches where we are favourites, but we go to Flensburg to win the match. That is the way approach each and every match we play. We go there with the intention of teasing Flensburg as much as possible, and if we can keep the match equal long enough, we know that anything can happen. We are fine with the role as underdogs. Unlike most games in the Danish league, we can play without pressure. Flensburg will have to take that on them Sunday.”

TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew