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25.10.2007, 12:18
Torgovanov, the Russian oak
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Olympic and World Champion Dimitri Torgovanov plays his first season ever in the Champions League.
 

Torgovanov, the Russian oak

Some stories in sports sound a little bit ironic: a player, who won all possible titles with his national team will play his first matches in the Champions League at the age of 35. Impossible? No, just take a look at the Russian pivot Dimitri Torgovanov, who plays currently for HSV Hamburg.He was Olympic Champion in the year 2000, World Champion in 2001, twice European Champion (1996, 2000). However, the first CL match of his new club was also his first CL match (against Viborg HK) in September 2007.

Torgovanov against Chekhov in the Champions League“A little bit strange,” the “Russian bear” says. And if it’s not strange enough, the second match in the Champions League for Torgowanow was a meeting with his long-term national coach.

“As we played against Chechovski Medvedi it was my first official match against Vladimir Maximov in my long career. With my former clubs we had some friendly matches against Chekhov, but none of them were official ones.”

Although he is already 35, he is still one of the most important players in the defence in Hamburg and also in the national team. “He stands like a German oak, it’s hard for every player to pass him by,” says HSV coach, Martin Schwalb about Torgovanov.

The Russian signed for Hamburg after leaving Kronau-Östringen. He is a fighter. He never gives up, even when it hurts. His most famous goal was the last goal for his former club TUSEM Essen in the EHF Cup final 2005. Essen played against Magdeburg and Torgovanov had a painful shoulder injury. He couldn’t even raise his arm, but in the last minute he scored the deciding goal that gave Essen the Cup. Afterwards, his club did not get the licence for the Bundesliga and Torgowanow, who played for the German clubs Wallau-Massenheim and Solingen before, went to Kronau. With the “Rhein-Neckar Löwen” he was twice finalist in the German Cup, but lost both finals. So with his clubs his only title was the European Cup with Essen.

Good start in the CL

This season he wants to gain even more with HSV Hamburg and the start of the Champions League was very successful: three victories from three matches, Hamburg are number one in their group even without Torgovanov for the away match in Zaporozhye.

The Russian player is the centre of defence in Hamburg“We want to stay number one in our group, this is very important for our self-confidence and our heads. If we our first, we have some advantage for the second group phase. I’d like to win against Chekhov and Maximov again when we play at home,” says Torgovanov, whose nickname is “Pino”.

Hamburg signed him especially for his qualities in the defence, but sometimes Torgovanov goes to attack to score. He does it with a certain sense of humour:

“My coach Maximow always said to me: ‘do not shoot with so much power, try to be precise, that is even harder and more frustrating for a goalkeeper’. So I never shoot with force, but softly in the corners of the goal.”

And Torgovanov enjoys playing in the Champions League:

“It’s a great pleasure to play against the best club teams of the world. I have a lot of experience and played a lot of international matches, but Champions League is something special.”

As HSV have some new players it’s important for him and coach Schwalb to get them integrated very fast, especially in the defence.

“We improve match by match,” says Torgovanov, “we lost three points in the Bundesliga, what is not good, but I hope that we are able to get them back in the rest of the season and stay in the top-three.”

Always in the national team

"Russian oak"The pivot played 215 international matches for Russia since 1993 and is currently in the team that plays the Super Cup in Germany as a preparation for the European Championship in Norway in January 2008.

“I think, this is my last big tournament or if we qualify for Olympics I play on. I often told Maximow that I wanted to end my international career, but he persuaded me again and again.”

Torgovanov wants to concentrate on his club. “I’m quite satisfied with my performance in Hamburg up to now. There are still some little mistakes, but I hope that we can improve our team and win some titles.”

Just as his coach Martin Schwalb, Torgovanov does not think that Hamburg are one of the favourites for the CL title:

“We have a strong team, but other teams have more international experience. But let’s wait and see what will happen.”


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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