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23.09.2013, 09:23
A star that never did things the usual way
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FEATURE: Part 4 of our 'Where are they now?'-series looks at French playmaker Jackson Richardson who was voted Most Valuable Player at the EHF EURO 2000 in Croatia
 

A star that never did things the usual way

The countdown clock to the 2014 EHF European Championship continues to tick down - as of October 2013 there will be a mere 100 days to go.

While the participating teams and its star players start getting in shape for the final tournament, we use the opportunity to look back at the stars from yesterday.

The players that stood and occasionally still stand for success at the previous EHF EURO events.

Part 4 of this 'Where are they now?'-series is French playmaker Jackson Richardson who was voted Most Valuable Player at the 2000 EHF EURO in Croatia.

Usually, playing at an European Championship ranks among the highlights in any handball player's career alongside eventual participations at World Championships and/or Olympic Games.

But Jackson Richardson has never done and thought of things the usual way: "I don't have so many good memories of it," he tells eurohandball.com.

"It has been a difficult competition for us, and the Olympic Games that summer (at which France lost in the quarter-final to FR Yugoslavia) weren't much better."

There are still things to be happy about though, since 'Jack' was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"I think that, along with the World Championships 2001, it was the best tournament I've played with the French jersey on my shoulders.

"I had responsibilities in attack, whereas before I was only a defensive player, and I managed to play well when I had to.

But the result, finishing fourth in the competition, is still something to be sad about since we had a very good team."

After finishing first in Group A with four wins and a, in Richardson's words, "special draw" against the Croatian hosts ("The night before the game, the phone in our hotel room kept ringing and constantly woke us up. I have never experienced so much pressure," he recalls), France lost 23:30 against Russia for whom goalkeeper Andrej Lavrov played a remarkable match.

"Lavrov did a very good job, and I think that when you see that Russia in the final lost against Sweden, who were still the best team in the world by then, only after double extra-time. I think it shows how good they were."

Even after 13 years Richardson is quite reluctant to talk about his MVP award, but when being gently pushed he says: "It's an honour, even though a collective title would have been better.

"It's always nice to see you belong among the best in the world, especially considering the line-up there was at this tournament."

Far away from the courts, but not too far away

Only a year later Richardson and the French national team won the silverware that had eluded them at the EHF EURO 2000, as they topped the podium at the 2001 World Championship on home courts.

In 2003 Richardsson resigned from international handball and five years later he entirely bade farewell to the professional side of the game.

"I still follow handball a lot, I still go to a lot of games, but I think I couldn't become a coach," he says.

"I just want to do something else with my life for now. I do all sorts of things, I take part in TV shows, true, but I've also got an estate agency on the island where I come from (RĂ©union), that takes up a lot of my time."

And even though the man with the well-known haircut is currently far away from the handball courts he once ruled, he does not rule out at all coming back to the sport at some point.

"You never know. It's not my priority right now, but I'm still close to a lot of people, and if some interesting project came up, then I would consider it."

His prowess in the game, that is for sure, is unlikely to be easily forgotten.

It was only in June 2013 that he was voted into the EHF Champions League All-star team as the best centre back in the competition's 20-year history.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / ts
 
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