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03.11.2017, 14:00
Borges’ “very emotional” return to Montpellier
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FEATURE: Brazilian wing Felipe Borges returns to his former club and beloved city, Montpellier, for Round 6 with his new team, Sporting CP
 

Borges’ “very emotional” return to Montpellier

Brazilian left wing Felipe Borges has a long story with Montpellier. He first arrived in 2013 from Léon and almost immediately fell in love with the city. Not only the city, but also the club, whose jersey he wore for three seasons.

“Everybody was great. When I arrived, I could barely speak with anybody apart from Petar Metlicic, who spoke Spanish with his Balkan accent,” he laughs. “But I felt very comfortable from the start. Every person in the organisation went the extra mile to make me feel at home.”

With the French side, he would win three national trophies, reach the EHF Cup Finals in 2014, and take part in three VELUX EHF Champions League campaigns.

“It opened a lot of doors for me. I got to play in the best league in the world and carry on playing the Champions League, which was essential for me to develop as a player,” says Borges.

It broke his heart, then, when Montpellier decided not to renew his contract in June 2016. Suffering from a shoulder injury, he was left without a club and was unable to play at the Olympic Games in his home country.

“At that point, I thought about stopping playing handball. It was a very tough period for me. I had to find my handball again after my shoulders problems. I was lacking self-confidence,” says Borges, who stayed in Montpellier for a year, despite having no contract with the club. It was the easiest thing for him to do – stay in an environment he knew, surrounded by people he felt comfortable with.

“The club helped me, allowed the physios to care of me, train with them sometimes, use their fitness room...It really helped me come back up.”

Since July, Felipe Borges has worn the jersey of Sporting CP – and feels like a handball player reborn.

“It might be a little bit exaggerated, but there's something like that hanging around. I really appreciate my time on the court now, I try to bring the best I can no matter how many minutes I play,” says the left wing, who turned 32 last May. He will be returning to Montpellier for the first time with another team for Round 6, to play in Palais des Sports René Bougnol, where so many memories haunt the walls.

“I’ll try not to head to the home locker room!” he laughs, before seriously considering why this moment will be very special to him. “I’ve played many games against former clubs, or former teammates, but never a game like this one. I spent four years in this city, and even though I was injured in the end, it was amazing. I actually don't have words to describe how excited I am to come back.”

Sporting’s visit to Montpellier will not only be about Borges’ emotions however, as the Portuguese side still have a real chance to qualify for the play-offs. Even though Montpellier are still undefeated in the Champions League, there are points to take in order to move on.

“There are two teams in this group, Montpellier and Zaporozhye, who I think are a little bit ahead of us. But the other four are level, in my opinion. The first leg against Montpellier was a good match for us, and we'll try to bring something back from Bougnol, but I'm in a very good position to know how hard it is to win there,” says Borges.

What he doesn't want to think about too much is how it might feel when he enters the arena, in which he is sure to receive a homecoming welcome: “Sometimes you think about these kind of things, and it gets you out of your match completely. But when the curtain opens tomorrow afternoon, it will be very special and emotional indeed."


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cg
 
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