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10.04.2013, 10:33
Proud to make our people happy, says a humble Sigurdsson
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Iceland's top scorer in the EHF EURO 2014 qualification does not count his goals and says that so far his team will go into the final tournament without any set objectives
 

Proud to make our people happy, says a humble Sigurdsson

Like France and Spain, Iceland have already qualified for the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark after two nail-biting one-goal-gap victories against Slovenia.

The decisive factor in both matches became Iceland's top scorer Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (34), who stroke 22 times and who is currently ranked second in the overall top scorer ranking of the qualification with 43 goals after four matches.

The left wing, who plays for VELUX EHF Champions League winner THW Kiel since the start of the season, does not count his goals, but he is happy that Iceland have already made their way to Denmark.

And he is proud of the huge interest the national team causes in Iceland, as he mentions in this exclusive interview with eurohandball.com.

eurohandball.com: Did you expect to qualify so early for the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark?

Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson: You cannot say that we expected it, but it was our clear goal to qualify as early as possible.

Slovenia have a brilliant team, what they had proved during the 2012 EHF EURO and especially the 2013 World Championship – so to win those matches was anything but easy, especially as we were hit by some injuries or other problems.

But we are absolutely happy to be part of the EHF EURO 2014 already, as those matches against Slovenia were as close as possible.

In both legs Slovenia were ahead of us by up to five goals, but finally we made it. And in my opinion both matches were stunners for the audience.

eurohandball.com: What was the key for the double success? Was Iceland the luckier team or the more experienced one?

Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson: You cannot talk about luck in this case, and Slovenia also have experienced players. I don’t know why, but Slovenia each match had the chances to equalise with the final whistle, but they missed twice. Lucky for us!

eurohandball.com: You scored 22 goals in both matches. How much is Iceland counting on your strikes?

Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson: It is all a matter of the team, not my personal matter. I scored very often from the penalty spot and all other goals were assisted by my teammates. Rarely it was the case that I took the ball, ran towards the goal and scored. All other players help me to score.

eurohandball.com: The only one, who scored more goals in rounds 3 and 4 and in the overall ranking is Belarussian Siarhei Rutenka. And you will face him in round 5…

Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson: I believe he deserves all goals as I deserve my goals. Belarus have become a really high hurdle to climb, especially when they play at home.

So we have to be aware. But to be honest: I did not even know that Rutenka is top ranked in this statistic and I am runners-up. I really don’t care about it.

eurohandball.com: Is your team now aiming to become the group winner, with only one point being needed to reach this goal?

Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson: Indeed. The first place would make things easier at the draw for us.

eurohandball.com: What will be Iceland's goal at the EHF EURO 2014?

Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson: It is much to early to talk about goals, as we don’t know what teams we will face in our group, or even, what teams will qualify.

Additionally it is always depending on which of our players are fit for the final tournament.

We realised in the previous tournaments that Iceland rely only on a small group of key players.

We have to increase this number by bringing fresh blood into our team to hand over responsibilities to younger players.

So there are a lot of factors which need to be clarified before we can set our goals for Denmark.

eurohandball.com: Iceland have qualified for all major previous and now already upcoming tournaments even though the population is much smaller compared to other nations. How do you explain this high level of handball in your country?

Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson: It is interesting that the outside world is thinking about this fact. We as players do not think about it, we play seven against seven on the field and do not consider that we come from a country with a small population.

But we are all happy that we get this recognition from abroad when we represent Iceland. Though we are a small nation, we have big players.

And we are really proud of the interest we arouse in Iceland. We have market shares of more than 80 per cent on TV when the national team plays.

And one saw the brilliant and very positive atmosphere in our home match against Slovenia, when 3,000 fans were in the hall, cheering for us, hugging us after the match.

It makes us feel great to see how happy and thankful those people were when we had beaten Slovenia.

When I returned to Germany, at the airport all the people were cheering. We give our best to see them smile. This makes us feel happy.

And when you see the current EHF EURO 2014 qualification we can also be proud of ourselves. Which teams have qualified by now? The Olympic champions, the world champions – and Iceland.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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