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09.10.2014, 17:30
"Everyone knew us and wanted to talk to us"
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INTERVIEW: For its ’Where are they now?’-series on the Women’s EHF EUROs’ handball legends , ehf-euro.com talked to Danish left wing Anette Hoffmann about the 1996 event
 

"Everyone knew us and wanted to talk to us"

"In 1996, we are the organisers, and hence we will have to win" - those were the words with which Gunnar Knudsen, president of the Danish Handball Federation at that time, ended his speech to Denmark’s women’s national team when they were celebrated in the Copenhagen City Hall after having won the EHF EURO 1994 in Germany.

So the players knew what was expected of them, when the EHF EURO 1996 threw off in Danish arenas two years later.

"Of course, it was a pressure, but I do not remember the pressure as being all that big. The expectations would probably have been there no matter where we had played," remembers Anette Hoffmann who was a fast and elegant left wing in the Danish team in those years.

"Besides, we knew we had the team to do it, and we had the necessary winning spirit in the team. We knew we could do it."

She and her teammates truly lived up to the expectations.

On 15 December 1996, Denmark became European champions for the second time in a row courtesy of a 25:23 win in the final against their eternal rivals Norway in front of 4,500 spectators in a full Herning Messecenter.

"I remember a fantastic atmosphere around that match, and what a noise those spectators could make!

"There was a lot of hype around that tournament, and everyone knew us and wanted to talk to us. If we went for a walk, we always met someone who wanted to talk.

"I wouldn't say that is was unpleasant, not at all, but still I believe that it prolonged my career that I played for a year in Spain together with Janne (Kolling) in 1997, as almost no one knew us down there," Anette Hoffmann tells ehf-euro.com.

Even though Hoffmann, who turned 43 this year, had also been a part of the team that became first European champions at the inaugural Women’s EHF EURO in 1994, she rates the triumph on home court even higher.

"Of course, it was great to win the first European Championship, especially as it was our first title ever, and the first title is always something special, but winning on home ground was really big," says Hoffmann who, in her illustrious career, also added Olympic gold in 1996 and 2000 and the World Championship title in 1997 to her tally.

"Winning an Olympic tournament may not be as hard as winning a World Championship or a European Championship, but Olympics are just so special, because it is not only about handball, but also about a lot of athletes from different sports being together," she says in hindsight.

Hoping for new Danish winning mentality

At club level she played for most of her career at Viborg HK, where she also celebrated many triumphs, but it was in another Danish league club, KIF Kolding, at which she ended her career in 2002.

Since then she has not touched a handball many a time.

"I played at the Old Girls EURO in 2009, and also four or five years ago I was in Hungary playing the revenge match of the Olympic final against Hungary (2000).

"That was really great fun. I might not have been as fast as I used to be, but I was impressed about how soon we found back to our usual ways of running and playing together in general," remembers Hoffmann who, however, still has some relations to sports these days, though.

"I’m working as sales manager at JI Sport, a company who provides sports accessories for schools, clubs, institutions etc," explains Hoffmann who is looking forward to watching Denmark at the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia this December.

"After the bronze medal at the World Championship last year, it would be great to get a step further up the ladder, I think.

"It should possible if they can find the necessary winning mentality and stability," she says.


The countdown clock to the Women's EHF EURO 2014 continues to tick down - as of the middle of October there will be a mere 50 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 1: Norway's Kjersti Grini, who turned from handball star to poker ace, and the Women's EHF EURO 1998


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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