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21.05.2015, 14:10
The first of his kind since 2009
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INTERVIEW: THW Kiel’s Steffen Weinhold is the only player at the 2015 VELUX EHF FINAL4 capable of winning the title for the second year in a row
 

The first of his kind since 2009 

It is one of the stories in the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 that the defending champions never defend their title. Not even a single player was able to lift the trophy two years in a row since the first FINAL4 in 2010.

However, this year Steffen Weinhold has the chance to do so. In 2014 the 28-year-old won the most important trophy in European club handball with Flensburg and afterwards signed a contract with THW Kiel, Flensburg’s opponents in the 2014 final. Weinhold is back in Cologne with THW this time around.

The last to win two consecutive EHF Champions League titles were eleven players of Ciudad Real in 2008 and 2009.

ehfcl.com: How did you remain confident of reaching Cologne after losing the first leg of the quarter-finals 29:31 against Szeged?

Steffen Weinhold: This defeat was a real stimulus for us. We were highly motivated; every player wanted to book the ticket to Cologne. With our fans’ support, eventually the second leg was not that tough. I think in the end it was a convincing performance.

ehfcl.com: In the semi-final Kiel, after 2014, again face Veszprem – a lucky draw or something you don’t care about?

Steffen Weinhold: At this stage it really doesn’t matter which team you face. The four group winners have qualified, the four best teams of the season, there are no favourites anymore. I expect a really exciting FINAL4 with great and even matches.

ehfcl.com: In 2014 you were part of the event with SG Flensburg-Handewitt, now it is THW Kiel – what are the differences?

Steffen Weinhold: One year ago, we were the underdogs, who had lived their dream already by making it to Cologne. This time it is different. It’s in Kiel’s DNA to win titles and each year it is the demand to at least qualify for Cologne. We want to reach the final, knowing that it will be anything but easy against Veszprem.

ehfcl.com: In the Last 16 you faced your former club Flensburg. Were those games special for you?

Steffen Weinhold: We deserved to win both matches in the way we eventually did (30:21 / 33:28). The first leg, when we won at Flensburg, was one of our best performances this season. I wasn’t given a friendly welcome, but this is normal in those duels.

ehfcl.com: What in general are the main differences between playing for Flensburg and for Kiel?

Steffen Weinhold: There aren’t that many. Both teams train hard, both coaches prepare us in-depth for our upcoming matches. The only difference is that I have to wash my training clothes myself in Kiel…

ehfcl.com: You can make history as since 2009 not a single player defended his EHF Champions League title. Since the implementation of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 you can become the first one.

Steffen Weinhold: I read this somewhere, but I don’t care that much about statistics. Of course, I want to defend the title in Cologne, and if it happens, it is a nice side aspect that I’m the first defending champion since 2009. But certainly I will not think for one second about those statistics when I’m on the court.

ehfcl.com: Another statistic proves that THW Kiel have never lost a match against a team at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 which was coached by a Spaniard. In 2015 all remaining opponents are coached by Spaniards…

Steffen Weinhold: Another nice fact which I never thought about before. It would be great if we continued this run as it would mean winning the Champions League again. But as I said, I expect four even matches this year. The team which can deliver two top performances within 24 hours will win the trophy, regardless if coached by a Spanish or an Icelandic coach.

ehfcl.com: In the previous seasons, you formed one half of the duo with world champion Holger Glandorf on the right back, now you share this job with Marko Vujin. Is it hard to have two stars in one position?

Steffen Weinhold: If you want to be successful on the highest level, you need two top stars for every position – like we had in Flensburg and like we have in Kiel. Marko and I play a completely different style of handball and have different tasks. So we fit like together like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

ehfcl.com: Is it an advantage that THW Kiel this year are the only German participants at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 as therefore you will be supported by the neutral German fans?

Steffen Weinhold: I know that a huge number of THW fans bought their tickets for Cologne very early. So they were sure that we make it to Cologne. All other teams will also have their supporters, but I that we will enjoy a small home advantage. We have to excite the neutral fans and make them to support us.

ehfcl.com: How sure are you about winning the trophy again?

Steffen Weinhold: You can never be sure in sports, but I hope that the 2014 triumph with Flensburg was not the last time I win the Champions League.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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