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04.10.2016, 11:47
Allison Pineau, the French handball genius
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EHF EURO KEY PLAYERS: Despite some serious injuries she suffered from and a range of troubles different clubs she played for had in the past, Allison Pineau has always been one of her teams’ major assets
 

Allison Pineau, the French handball genius

Allison Pineau is only 27, but one could get the feeling that she has been playing for the French national team for the past fifteen years.

French women’s head coach Olivier Krumbholz nominated her for the first time in 2007 to play a friendly against China. Pineau was only 17.

“We decided to take Allison into the first team instead of sending her with the junior team,” the coach remembers.

“Usually, players start playing with the first national team at the age of 20. But very soon, we knew that Allison had a great potential not only because of her handball skills but also thanks to her determination.”

In 2009 she became the first French female to be named World Handball Player of the Year, in 2011 she came second in the vote. These two seasons still mark some of the best years in her career.

After the World Championship 2011 which France finished with the silver medal, Krumbolz had two words to describe Pineau's performance: “extraordinary” and “masterful”.

An ace on both sides of the court

“One of Allison's biggest qualities is that she attacks and defends very well. Too often, a very good attacker doesn't defend a lot. But Allison does. Also, she can play on all three back court positions,” Krumbholz highlights.

Pineau suffered from serious knee injuries in 2011 and 2015, but came back stronger on both occasions. The latest evidence came at the Rio 2016 Olympics in August. France won silver and Pineau was named best left back of the tournament.

“Allison has an amazing mental strength. Even at the lowest points of her career, her determination and her stubbornness helped her to stay a world class player. After all, all her experience helped her to mature. She has always been an important player in the teams she played in,” says Krumbholz.

He adds : “I will always remember the in-flight goal between Allison and Alexandra Lacrabère in the last minute of the extra-time against Spain, in the quarter-final (27:26). After such a tough game, it shows how confident she can be and also the great relationship between these two players who have known each other for a long time now.

A player to decide matches

People who have played with or coached Pineau agree that the she is a player who can make the difference in a game.

“Remember the Champions League match between Fleury and Baia Mare (17:18) last season?” asks Laurent Bezeau, her head coach at Brest Bretagne Handball this season.

“Allison missed everything she tried for 59 minutes but scored the winning goal in the very last second. Baia Mare won and this was a turning point for both teams in their campaign.”

“She is as important on and off the court. She always wants to win, understands handball perfectly and has this natural leadership skills. In a nutshell, I could say that she is just a great professional handball player,” Bezeau says.

“Allison is this kind of player who is always full of positive energy,” Romanian international Melinda Geiger who played with Pineau at Baia Mare and now joined her at Brest. “Her mind is always looking for answers and solutions and she never gives up. Thanks to her positive attitude and her charisma, she also wins the heart of the spectators.

“As a teammate it’s always good to have her next to me because I know how her mind works.” And she adds with a smile: “But Allison is a perfectionist. She can be very rude with someone who makes too many mistakes at practice or at game! So it helps to play our best handball all the time.”


TEXT: Clement Domas / ts
 
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