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13.03.2014, 10:23
Bitter is back
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NEWS STORY: After a three-year absence, the HSV goalkeeper returns to the German national team
 

Bitter is back

They called for him several times, and now he is back. Johannes Bitter returns to the German men’s national team for the crucial World Championship qualifiers against Poland (7 and 14 June). Bitter and German head coach Martin Heuberger announced this surprising news in a media conference on Wednesday.

The 2007 world champion had quit playing for the national team in February 2011, right after the world championship in Sweden, “as I needed more time for my family,” he explained at the time.

Since this decision, the reigning VELUX EHF Champions League champion with HSV Hamburg, had been asked several times to return – and now he changed his mind.

“I feel absolutely honoured when the new board of the German Handball federation had asked me. I am even more honoured by the trust head coach Martin Heuberger gives.

“After intense discussions with HSV Hamburg and my family I now decided to comeback to help the team in the upcoming major tasks,” Bitter said, adding: “I believe I can help the team thanks to my experience.”

31-year-old Bitter will return between the German goalposts for the two test matches against Hungary on 4 and 5 April, one of them in his home town Oldenburg.

“It is something very special for me to have this comeback match in the city, where I was born. And also I know the arena in Magdeburg quite well, where we face Poland in the second leg match of the World Championship qualification,” said Bitter, who played for SC Magdeburg before he joined HSV Hamburg in 2007.

“We need to fight against Poland with the best players we have. Johannes Bitter is really an asset for our team. I am absolutely delighted that he is willing to play again for Germany,” head coach Martin Heuberger said.

Bitter’s club coach Martin Schwalb, who supports Bitter’s decision, shares Heuberger’s opinion: “Jogi is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. I understood when he quit playing for the national team in 2011 to have a break because of his family. But it is to his credit now that he wants to be an important part of German handball again. He is an absolute benefit for the national team.”

At the age of 19, Bitter had his first match in the German jersey in 2002 against Switzerland. From 2005 until 2011 the two metre tall keeper was part of all major tournaments, including the victorious World Championship on home court in 2007. As of now, Bitter has played 142 times for Germany.

Together with Silvio Heinevetter and Carsten Lichtlein, Bitter will now build the goalkeeper trio for the most important matches in German men’s handball in years.

“His comeback is a signal for the whole team. Goalkeeper and defence are the key for clinching a berth at the 2015 World Championship in Qatar,” coach Martin Heuberger said.

His team had missed out on participation at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2014 EHF EURO in Denmark, and can ill afford another international failure.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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