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29.05.2017, 12:40
Andreas Nilsson: "Just as great as the first time"
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INTERVIEW: At his first VELUX EHF FINAL4, with HSV Hamburg, Andreas Nilsson won the competition. Now he prepares for his fourth FINAL4, and his third with Telekom Veszprém. He makes no secret that he is hungry to win again.
 

Andreas Nilsson: "Just as great as the first time"

Some people say the first time is always the best, and to Andreas Nilsson his first VELUX EHF FINAL4 was definitely unforgettable.

In the 2012/13 season he won the VELUX EHF Champions League with HSV Hamburg, in what was one of the biggest sensations in the history of the competition.

Having come the hard way, from the qualifiers and a fourth place in the group phase, HSV managed to go all the way and win the trophy.

"Of course, I have some great memories from back then but, honestly, even though this will be my fourth FINAL4, it is just as great and just as much fun as it was the first time," says Nilsson who will play his third consecutive FINAL4 with Telekom Veszprém, whom he joined in 2014.

"Playing the FINAL4 is the greatest you can achieve at club level, but I admit that I am beginning to become a bit hungry to win again. So are my teammates, as this is Veszprém's fourth FINAL4 in a row, and so far, we have not won the tournament yet.

"Winning the Champions League is what we train and plan for all the way through the season," says the 27-year-old Swedish line player who remembers last year's FINAL4 only too well.

Having defeated THW Kiel 31:28 in the semi-final, Nilsson and Veszprém were leading by nine goals in the second half of the final against KS Vive Tauron Kielce – only to see their Polish opponents catch up and win 39:38.

Nilsson scored six goals in that final, but his personal success was no consolation to him after the defeat.

"However, we have put that disappointment behind us now. It was a heavy mental burden on us for several days, also after we returned home. But you simply cannot go on moaning about such a thing for a whole year.

"You have to move on, and that is what we have done. We are ready for another go at the title."

Third match against Paris

Veszprém's opponent in the semi-final in Cologne next Saturday will not be a new acquaintance. Neither will it be an opponent which brings positive memories.

Veszprém will face Paris Saint-Germain, whom they have already met twice this season as the two teams were both in Group A of the group phase.


 

In that tough group, Veszprém lost both matches against PSG – 29:28 at home and 28:24 in Paris.

"I do not think very much about those matches any more, though.

"The semi-final in Cologne is a completely new match with different things at stake compared to the group matches, so I do not pay much attention to the fact that we took two defeats there.

"I do realise, however, that Paris are probably the biggest favourites at the FINAL4, together with Barcelona. Still, it is not always the favourite who wins the FINAL4. You only have to look at our win with Hamburg in 2013 to find proof of that.

"Furthermore, I actually think that all four teams at this FINAL4 are very equal, so the outcome is really hard to predict," says Nilsson, who can look forward to another reunion with Sweden teammate Jesper Nielsen, who is a line player for PSG.

"Even though we share the court time in the national team, we will obviously put the thought about being teammates aside when we meet in the semi-final.

"When I meet another Swede at club level, I always want to beat him. Apart from that, this meeting will not be much different from so many other meetings with players you meet all the time.

"To me, it is more about winning. My current contract with Veszprém is valid until 2019, so hopefully, this will not be my last FINAL4. But still, it would mean a lot to me to win again this year."
 


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ap
 
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