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22.05.2016, 14:10
Great days at Europe’s handball temple
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UNSUNG HEROES: Michael Kraus was key for Hamburg winning in Cologne in 2013, and now took the EHF Cup title with his home club Göppingen

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's CL
»Final Four
»
 

Great days at Europe’s handball temple

After sensationally beating their domestic rivals and defending champions THW Kiel in the semi-final, HSV Hamburg won the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy in 2013.

The German side defeated FC Barcelona in the only FINAL4 decider to need extra-time to separate the teams (30:29).

One player, who didn’t score a single goal in the semi-final, rose like Phoenix in the final: Michael Kraus.

The 2007 World Champion netted six crucial goals in this thriller.

Three years later, just days ago, Kraus took his second ‘FINAL4 win’, being part of the newly crowned EHF Cup winners Frisch Auf Göppingen.

“I was so happy that I could help out in this furious final,” Kraus says today looking back at 2013, adding: “At an event like the VELUX EHF FINAL4 you have to step back from all individual interests and just focus on the team. I was glad that my time had come in the final. Unfortunately, it was the last trophy for our great HSV team.”

Right after he became World Champion and All-star team member at the LANXESS Arena in 2007, Kraus transferred to Lemgo, before he became member of the HSV squad in 2010. The VELUX EHF Champions League final was Kraus’ last international match for Hamburg, as he went back to where it all had started: Frisch Auf Göppingen.

Like in 2011, Kraus was impressed by the VELUX EHF FINAL4: “Cologne is a perfect setting for the event, the LANXESS Arena is THE handball temple in all Europe. The FINAL4 is the biggest club handball event, a perfectly organized mixture of sport and entertainment. And the venues will always remain in the heads of all those who highlighted their career with winning the 2007 World Championship.”

But the national team partly became a bitter story for the playmaker. Several times he was left out of the German squad, and several times he back in right up until 2011. For three years he was out, then surprisingly had another comeback in spring 2014, but then failed with the Germans in the play-offs for the 2015 World Championship against Poland.

In the meantime he went back to Göppingen – and made his dream come true to win a trophy with Frisch Auf.

And on 15 May it came true as the German side beat host HBC Nantes in the final of the EHF Cup Finals

“The last title you win is always the most important one, especially when it is with my home club – that’s very important for me.

I am so happy to have this trophy in my cabinet now,” says Kraus, who will have to search for a new club for the upcoming season, as his contract was not extended.

The back court ace praises both events, the EHF Champions League FINAL4 and the EHF Cup Finals: “Both are similar and both are perfectly organised, and having the best four teams of a competition in a format, creates an incredible tension for the fans and players.”

For him, his domestic rivals Kiel are the favourites to win the trophy in Cologne for the third time after 2010 and 2012 this year: “Kiel can fully focus on this event, so they are my personal favourite though everybody expects PSG to win the trophy.”

Despite playing in the EHF Cup, he is close to the VELUX EHF Champions League action – as part of the expert team of SKY TV.

 


TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc
 
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