Zaadi wants to crown her anniversary season at MetzArticle
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FEATURE: In her 10th season with the French club, centre back Grace Zaadi has one big wish: returning to the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 in May 2020
»2019-20 Women's News

Zaadi wants to crown her anniversary season at Metz

It is a special season for Grace Zaadi. The French centre back, who turned 26 in July, is celebrating a milestone in her career: this is her 10th season with Metz Handball, the club she has climbed every step with until reaching the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 last May.

“I wasn’t born here but I feel like I belong in Metz,” Zaadi says. “I guess you don’t stay with a club for 10 seasons if you don’t feel at home. The people and the staff have always cared about me.”

Zaadi considers herself lucky, playing for the club for such a long time.

“A lot of players have been playing in Metz, but I was the captain last season, the most successful one for the club,” she says. “I feel lucky to go through something that wonderful.”

Last season was exceptional as well

While the current season might be her anniversary year, last season was exceptional as well. Not only did Zaadi make it to Budapest for the first time, she was also a key part of the French national team that won the EHF EURO 2018 on home court in December.

“When you add everything up, it’s kind of crazy,” she says with a smile.

But to be successful with France, Zaadi is aware she has to perform well with Metz.

Last week, Metz started their DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League 2019/20 campaign with a convincing 40:26 win over Podravka Vegeta, and Zaadi contributed four goals. Despite missing several important players, Metz sent a strong signal to their rivals.

“It’s good for the confidence to win without players like Laura Flippes, Laura Glauser and Orlane Kanor,” Zaadi says. “The other girls have had the chance to show their potential.”

A tougher test awaits Metz on Sunday afternoon, when they visit FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (live on at 13:00 CET) to show what they are really up to this season.

A win in one of the hottest arenas will be an early indicator that the French side is looking promising for another trip to the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4.

Crown on Zaadi's anniversary year

Because that is the crown Zaadi wants to put on her anniversary year at Metz. Last season’s visit to the Papp Laszlo Arena ended with two defeats and a fourth place, but the experience has made her and her teammate hungry for more.

“I’m still disappointed. To me it feels like we missed one, maybe two games last season, but we missed the ones we couldn’t,” she says.

Reflecting on the losses to Rostov-Don in the semi-final and to Vipers Kristiansand in the third-place match, Zaadi believes that “maybe we lacked a little bit of experience.”

“Such an event is special and we can get lost in it. I’m sure that, if we manage to qualify again, the outcome could be different,” she adds.

While the Metz team has grown step-by-step over the years, going back to the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 would be another major step.

While most players are refraining from looking far ahead, Zaadi doesn’t make a secret of her biggest wish to book another to Budapest.

“We know we have the potential but you never know what happens in the next six months,” she says. “But we have to be there again. When you taste something good, you want to taste it one more time.”

TEXT: Kevin Domas / ew