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10.12.2015, 13:59
Mattias Andersson – better than ever
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EHF EURO KEY PLAYERS: At the age of 37 Sweden's goalkeeper Mattias Andersson is in the form of his life according to people who have been following his career
 

Mattias Andersson – better than ever

“Very professional”. “Dedicated”. “In the form of his life”.

When someone speaks to people close to Mattias Andersson these days, this is what they say when talking about the Swedish goalkeeper.

“He has always been very dedicated and he prepares thoroughly and accurately for every match,” says, for example, Sweden’s national team coach Staffan Olsson.

“From a coach’s point of view, it is a real pleasure to work with Mattias because he is so focused and dedicated, in training as well as in matches,” says Olsson who actually played together with Andersson in the Swedish national team for a couple of years before ending his national team career in 2000.

Mattias Andersson had his debut in 1998 and was part of the last Swedish team that won European gold in 2000. To date Andersson has played 124 internationals for Sweden.

As Sweden’s head coach Olsson has been working with Andersson since taking over as national coach in 2008 and he does not hesitate to characterise Andersson as ‘better than ever’.

“Those nearly five years he has been with Flensburg now, have probably been some of the best years in his career, and I think it is fair to say that he is in the form of his life right now,” says Olsson.

Andersson started his career in Ystads IF, represented European top clubs such as FC Barcelona and THW Kiel and has been with SG Flensburg-Handewitt since 2011.

“Therefore it is obvious that Mattias is an extremely important player for the Swedish national team and he will definitely be crucial to us at the (EHF) EURO.

“Of course, the goalkeepers are always crucial to any team, but this applies even more to Mattias,” says Olsson.

A great colleague and a dreaded rival

The same descriptions, which Olsson finds for Andersson, are mentioned by Andreas Palicka who has been Andersson’s goalkeeping partner in many internationals.

“Mattias is a very professional guy who works seriously with his sport, and who is very detailed in his match preparations,” says the 29-year-old.

Palicka is now playing for Danish side Aalborg Handball but he has been opposing Andersson in many Bundesliga matches while playing for THW Kiel.

Palicka also has an explanation for what makes Andersson so good.

“He is such a versatile keeper. He has very few weaknesses and that makes it difficult for the shooters to decide how to shoot at him,” Palicka says.

“In handball, and especially in modern top handball, it is essential for a goalkeeper duo to be able to work together, and Mattias is absolutely a goalkeeper, you can work with.

“He is a great colleague and our cooperation in the national has been functioning perfectly so far,” finds Palicka.

“Of course, I can learn from such an experienced goalkeeper as Mattias – especially his thorough way of preparing and his way of anticipating the shots as well as his calmness.

“However, I think that almost all goalkeepers can learn from each other, and this way, there is probably also a few things, Mattias can learn or has learned from me.

“We are also rivals, of course, as we are competing for time on court in the national team, but in that respect, I’m well aware of my role as a substitute to Mattias – if I even get nominated for the Swedish  EURO squad.

“In my mind there is absolutely no doubt that Mattias is the obvious first-choice keeper, and it will then be up to the national team coaches, if they prefer Mikael Appelgren or myself as the second keeper.

“Mattias is one of the absolutely best keepers in the world right now, and Sweden need him,” states Palicka.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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