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18.07.2016, 11:31
For a great player, height does not matter
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RISING STARS #2: After his performances for SC DHfK Leipzig over the past two seasons have put him firmly in the handball spotlight, Germany’s 19-year-old right back Franz Semper gets ready for his first Men’s 20 EHF EURO
 

For a great player, height does not matter

Will the upcoming Men’s 20 EHF EURO in Denmark mark the next breakthrough for Germany’s Franz Semper? Over the past few years the 19-year-old right back has done everything to put himself firmly in the spotlight of European junior’s handball – and even beyond.

With Semper as a key player on court, his club, SC DHfK Leipzig, won three consecutive youth and junior national championships. At the same time he already made the step into the senior squad, helping them to a promising 11th Bundesliga place in the 2015/16 season, the club’s first one since its promotion.

For the past two years Semper has also been playing for Germany’s junior national team. He was nominated for the Junior World Championship 2015 even though he had just turned 18 in July and came home with the bronze medal.

“Franz has gone through an extremely positive development,” says Germany’s junior coach Markus Baur, a 2007 world champions. “He has done a brilliant job in Leipzig’s junior as well as in the senior team.”

Even though he knows that the 1.90-metre-tall Semper himself does not agree fully – “It would be better and helpful to be some centimetres taller, and then I could call myself a shooter,” he says – Baur praises the shooting prowess of the left-hand backcourt player. “Franz is a typical shooter. He is extremely dynamic, strong in one-on-one actions, and he knows exactly how to cope with the fact that he is not the tallest one.”

Ready for the EHF EURO

After some strong performances over the past weeks in the lead-up to the final tournament, Germany seem ready for the EHF EURO in Denmark at which they will first face Hungary, Croatia and Sweden in Group D in Kolding. “Our first goal is to proceed to the main round, but I hope for more, as we will try everything to fight for a medal,” says Semper. The first two teams from each of the four groups qualify for the main round.

The Men’s 20 EHF EURO will be the last event for coach Baur who will take over German Bundesliga side TVB Stuttgart afterwards, and Semper hopes that the team’s performance eventually will be “a nice farewell present for our coach.” Two years ago, at the Men’s 20 EHF EURO in Austria, Baur led Germany, back then featuring players such as Paul Drux, Fabian Wiede, Jannik Kohlbacher and Simon Ernst, to gold.

Semper is now eager to follow into their footsteps, but he knows that he has to be patient: “Of course, I dream of becoming a men’s national team player one day, but on my position players such as Steffen Weinhold, Fabian Wiede and Kai Häfner are in front of me. I have to focus on my performances and development on club level to see where I stand. Nobody can predict exactly what happens in 24 months.

“For the past two years it was only upwards for me. I played two perfect seasons with all those achievements. Nobody could have expected that my career goes like this when I transferred to Leipzig four years ago.”

First and foremost, he is now looking forward to his first EHF EURO event: “Tournaments like this one are an incredible experience for a younger age category player. You get used to the rhythm and atmosphere that senior national teams have to deal with at EUROs and World Championships.”

Photos: Rainer Justen/SC DHfK Leipzig & DHB


Previous articles published in the “Rising stars”-series ahead of the Men’s 20 EHF EURO

#1: Denmark’s Sebastian Augustinussen: He reaches for the stars – but at moderate pace


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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