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20.03.2015, 09:30
Drux moves from village to capital, rises from zero to hero
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RISING STARS OF 2015: 20-year-old German Paul Drux has been enjoying a remarkable ride up the handball ranks and into the national team since he joined Füchse Berlin in 2011
 

Drux moves from village to capital, rises from zero to hero

"That’s where I want to be." This was the thought that changed Paul Drux’s life.

At the age of 16, when the VfL Gummersbach left back faced the Füchse Berlin youth team, knew where he wanted to play.

Some months later Drux, who grew up in the small village Marienheide just east of Cologne, packed his bags and started his journey to the German capital.

This step was the true starting point for his handball career.

When youth coach Bob Hanning (also the club’s manager) took care of Drux in his team, the teenager’s performance became better and better at the same time as his physical shape became more imposing.

On three occasions Paul Drux led Füchse Berlin to the German youth championship. He was just 17 when he played for the first time in the senior team in 2012 and in the same year he also made his VELUX EHF Champions League debut.

These days he is regarded by many as the German talent to watch out for. Despite the fact that he is only 20 years old and hence still part of Germany’s youth national team that won the Men’s 20 EHF EURO last summer.

Attracting attention

It was not only because of the European Championship title that 2014 was a crucial year for Drux. He also became a constant part in Füchse’s starting line-up and won his first domestic title, the German Cup, with the Berlin team.

"Drux is one of the most outstanding players I have ever coached in this age group," says Germany’s youth coach coach Markus Baur, himself a world and European champion with Germany.

Two months after the success at the Men’s 20 EHF EURO, Drux was nominated for his first senior international against Switzerland.

It also was the first match of the new German national team coach – someone Drux knows well as he is also his club coach at Füchse Berlin: Dagur Sigurdsson.

"I was impressed and surprised when I had my first appearance – but I did not feel any pressure," says Drux.

Another three months later – at the end of December 2014 – the next dream came true for the left back.

He was among the 18 German players Sigurdsson nominated for the Men’s World Championship in Qatar, and eventually Drux enjoyed a lot of playing time.

Behind 18-year-old Austrian Nikola Bilyk, who had been awarded MVP at the Men’s 20 EHF EURO, he was the second youngest player at the event.

"I was surprised again, I didn’t expect to play that early in a competition like this," Drux admits. "I said to myself though, ‘here is your chance’, and I promise to do my best to help our national team."

At Qatar 2015 Drux’s performance attracted the attention of many, but the youngster did his best to keep himself grounded.

"I learnt a lot in terms of competition, training, but also about the general media interest in my person. But I simply tried not to let these things getting too close and enjoyed every second. I’m still dealing with all the experiences I made."

Drux, who has been studying industrial engineering since last summer, believes that there is life besides sports: "I don’t want to be still in an arena when I’m 40 years old, neither as a coach nor as a player," he says.

But until then there are still 20 more years to play for  – and Drux is not short of goals at all. "My role model is Nikola Karabatic, he is the perfect player – and I try to bridge the gap to him day by day."

The next challenges are already looming: At the end of April and the beginning of May, Germany will face Spain twice in the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification.

"If we continue the way we have played in Qatar we will qualify for the EURO in Poland," Drux says.

Germany won their two first matches in the qualification against Austria (28:24) and Finland (30:18).

Also in May two more club titles are at stake: First Füchse have the chance to defend the German Cup they won in 2014, then the EHF Cup Finals take place on Füchse’s home court and courtesy of their performance in the EHF Cup Group Phase they have already qualified.

Drux, who was called the 'Füchse’s true diamond' by manager Bob Hanning, has a long term contract at Berlin and has no plans whatsoever to leave the club where his career started: "Berlin and the Füchse are simply sensational."

Photos: Qatar 2015


The rising handball stars of 2015

Part 1: Niko Mindegia (ESP) / Pick Szeged: "I dream of playing at the next EHF EURO"

Part 2: Kentin Mahé (FRA) / HSV Hamburg: Walking proudly in his father's steps

Part 3: Sander Sagosen (NOR) / Aalborg Handball: "I want to be the best in the world"

Part 4: Nikola Bilyk (AUT) / Fivers WAT Margareten: "Dreaming of becoming handball's Michael Jordan"

Part 5: Michal Szyba (POL) / Gorenje Velenje: A 'watchmaker' on his way to the peak

Part 6: Michal Kasal (CZE) / Futebol Clube do Porto: A new Jicha on the horizon

Part 7: Nikola Portner (SUI) / Kadetten Schaffhausen: A new ambassador for Swiss handball

Part 8: Dario Polman (NED) / Targos Bevo HC: Like brother, like sister

Part 9: Filip Ivic (CRO) / PPD Zagreb: A ‘Zagreb kid’ dreams of winning the EHF Champions League

Part 10: Dejan Malinovic (BIH) / US Creteil: Dejan Malinovic is ready for the big splash


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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