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25.05.2016, 17:10
I'm back in my backyard
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BLOG: Before Daniel "Air France" Narcisse set out to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 venue he shares his thoughts on his fourth trip with the ehfCL.com readers.
 

I'm back in my backyard

Dear handball friends,

It is official now, I'm coming back to Cologne! After missing three editions of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, PSG and I will be more than happy to visit this German city.

The LANXESS arena holds more than its fair share of memories for me, linked or not to the Champions League. The best, in my opinion, dates back to 2010.

I had just transferred from Chambéry to THW Kiel, my second adventure in German territory. For the first time ever, I was about to play the biggest of European competitions.

And not only did I play it that season, but we also won it, and that remains my best memory.

The 2013 edition, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed up one for me. That year was my last with THW and it was something like the end of an year for some of us.

Afterwards, some of us like Marcus Ahlm, retired, some others moved on to other clubs. It would have been perfect to end the Kiel episode with a Champions League win, but we didn't manage it.

But looking back at the event, to reach it for the third time still feels like an amazing achievement.

If I remember my arrival in Kiel, I had set up some high goals to reach for myself, playing the Champions League and maybe winning it. It was with the same kind of feeling that I chose to move back to France and to Paris. For sure, the FINAL4 was a little bit longer to reach, but it feels like we are building the club's story bit by bit.

But don't assume we think we've done the hardest part. If the satisfaction's here, it's very tiny and our ambition will totally be fulfilled only if we lift the trophy on Sunday evening.

For sure, we have the players to do it, but so do the other teams. It's maybe the first time in history the FINAL4 is so wide open.

All four teams can win or lose. And for sure, the players that make up this PSG team are used to winning trophies, but we still have so much to learn from one another. And also to learn together, as a team.

Coming back to Cologne means a lot handball-wise to me, but it also brings back a lot of memories from outside the court. I used to play with VfL Gummersbach, back in the day.

Not only did we play the big clashes in that arena, but also against smaller teams, and the venue was always full. For sure, it was a big difference to France! We used to go out to the town, which is a 30-minute drive from Gummersbach.

Whenever we wanted to go out, meet some people, do a little bit of shopping, we would go to Cologne, which is a very nice city.

But this weekend, there will be no time for shopping, the only focus will be on handball. The LANXESS arena is one that every player is overwhelmed by. It doesn't leave you indifferent, but it's one I've learnt, year by year, to tame.

The arena almost feels like my backyard now. This visit will be different, since every other time I played in Cologne, I was wearing a German team's jersey. But no matter what, I'm delighted to be back.

Bis Samstag!


TEXT: Daniel Narcisse, Paris Saint-Germain Handball centre back
 
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