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07.03.2013, 09:37
The rising handball stars of 2013, part 9: Ángel Montoro
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Despite being 2,13 metres tall, the Spanish international knows that height is not enough to be among the best of the best
 

The rising handball stars of 2013, part 9: Ángel Montoro

"I always want to give more, give more to the team. It is the desire to excel which makes me train every day."

It is those words that show the character of the ambitious 23-year-old FC Barcelona Intersport right back and Spanish international, Ángel Montoro.

Despite his imposing physique, his 2,13 metres – figuratively speaking – put him to the top of Spanish handball, he is very much aware that height is not enough to establish himself among the best of the best in world handball.

It was his high school teacher that convinced the 14-year-old Montoro back in the days at his hometown Toledo to quit football and give it a go at handball.

"Before I finally decided to play handball, I played football and also had people suggesting basketball to me as well," he remembers.

"At first, the sport wasn’t easy for me because of my physique, but it was the will to excel that brought me to where I am today."

Montoro steadily improved over the course of the years and was finally good enough to join Reale Ademar de León, one of the most successful schools of Spanish handball.

It also became the team for which, in March 2009 at the age of 19, he made his debut in the Spanish Asobal league.

However, he did not become a permanent entry to the first team until two years later when, in the 2010/11 season, he showed his full ability in matches such as the EHF Cup quarter-final against TBV Lemgo in Germany, in which the right back scored nine goals.

Those performances also caught the attention of Spain’s national team coach, Valero Rivera, who nominated Montoro for the first time just two months later, in June 2011, for test match against Argentina.

"I remember that I was very nervous, especially for the first few days," recalls Montoro. "Even though I knew all my teammates I had never met them off the court. But with all the training and the test matches I soon started feeling better and better."

But Angel Montoro's true consecration in the Spanish national team came a few months later, in the Men's Handball Super Cup in Germany in November 2011.

Spain dominated the event, beating Denmark, Sweden as well hosts, Germany, and right back Montoro showed that he could be the ‘shooter’ that Spanish handball had longed for.

However, his rise came to an abrupt halt as a serious knee injury, sustained just days after the Super Cup sidelined Montoro for six months and saw him miss the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia as well as the London Olympic Games.

But this setback did not prevent Montoro, now 23 years old, to sign a six-season contract with Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona Intersport in the summer of 2012.

A high-voltage match in the quarter-finals

Having fully recovered from his injury, his performances on the national league level as well as in the VELUX EHF Champions League, where he has scored 25 goals so far, gained him once again the selection to the Spanish national team for the 2013 World Championship 2013 on home soil.

"I especially remember the quarter-final against Germany,” he says. “I remember it as a real final. It was a high voltage match, because we were going to either play for medals or be knocked out of the tournament."

The victory paved Spain’s way to the final and the world championship crown – an achievement that Montoro thinks gives Spain enough confidence to go for the next title, this time at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark.

And the Spaniard knows exactly what he has to do to be part of the team when the final event comes around: Continue working as usual, play with maximum intensity in every match and training every to rise to the expectations that point him out as one of rising stars of Spanish and European handball.

"There are still many things where I can improve. Earlier this season, for example, is when I started to defend and I have to keep working at it, but that also applies to my tactical, technical and physical game to become even stronger on the court."


TEXT: Javier Villanueva / ts
 
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