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10.01.2018, 22:10
Wolff: No thoughts on 2016, only 2018 counts
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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Germany’s EHF EURO 2016 hero Andreas Wolff on expectations, new coach Christian Prokop and emotions on court
 

Wolff: No thoughts on 2016, only 2018 counts

He rose to prominence at the EHF EURO 2016, when he played a key role in Germany’s surprise trophy win: Andreas Wolff put on outstanding performances in Poland, particularly in the final against Spain (24:17), when he saved 48 per cent of all shots. After the final whistle, Wolff did not only receive the gold medal, but was awarded best goalkeeper in the All-star Team. Since then, Wolff was named the first ever EHF Player of the Month, German Handball Player of the Year twice, and Germany’s 2016 bearded man of the year. He also claimed the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Some months after the EHF EURO 2016, Wolff joined THW Kiel, and recently announced his transfer to Kielce, to take place by 2019. Now, the next EURO is ahead for 26-year-old Wolff – and the roles and expectations have clearly changed compared to those of 2016.

In this exclusive interview with ehf-euro.com, Wolff talks about his memories of the tournament in Poland, the chances for his side at the EHF EURO 2018, and why Germany are stronger than before.

ehf-euro.com: Two years ago, you were one of the EURO heroes. How often do you look back on Poland, especially now, right before the next EURO event?

Andreas Wolff: Not a single second. We have a new tournament ahead, with a new team, new tactics and a new coach. We have to adapt to new opponents – and, therefore, it does not help you to look back. We are in the present, not in the past, and we have to prove our abilities now. The same holds true for the 2017 World Championship, when we failed as early as the last 16. It is also over. The future is Croatia.

ehf-euro.com: Germany are defending EURO champions. Is winning the gold medal the goal?

Andreas Wolff: Nobody in our team thinks ahead that far. Our first goal is the opening match against Montenegro; this is our only focus. The next goal is Slovenia, then Macedonia. We have always been strong when we only focused on the next opponent. We were taught a tough lesson in France when it was different, but I hope that we learned from it.

ehf-euro.com: You mentioned the new Germany coach, Christian Prokop. How is he different to his predecessor, Dagur Sigurdsson?

Andreas Wolff: Mainly the way of communication. He is more open, he is working more with details, he is a perfectionist, and talks much more to all players individually to explain exactly what he wants to see.

ehf-euro.com: In contrast to 2016, there are no major injury cases currently shaking the Germany team. Does this make the defending champions even stronger?

Andreas Wolff: Mainly, the squad is more experienced than two years ago. We all have approximately 50 more caps in our tally. This is a cornerstone for our development. Also, world-class players such as Uwe Gensheimer, Patrick Groetzki and Patrick Wiencek – who all missed the EHF EURO 2016 due to injuries – are back. This mixture of stars and experience definitely makes our team stronger.

ehf-euro.com: You and Silvio Heinevetter form one of the best national team goalkeeping duos in the world. Can the goalkeeper position be a key to success for Germany again?

Andreas Wolff: It is a long tradition in German handball to count on extraordinary goalkeepers. Silvio Heinevetter and I are proud to extend this line. I am sure that since the Rio Olympics we have constantly played on a high level, and now we have the chance to continue in Croatia.

 ehf-euro.com: You are a very emotional player. How important will emotions be in the preliminary round in Zagreb?

Andreas Wolff: We will have three away matches there. I heard that more than 5,000 Slovenian fans will support their team in Zagreb. Macedonians and Montenegrins are of the same handball craziness. So, we have to cope with those emotions from the stands. Either we have to use them as motivation or we have to calm the arena down to be successful.

ehf-euro.com: How do you rate the final test matches against Iceland?

Andreas Wolff: We beat a strong team by seven goals in the first encounter and nine in the second. This proves our current strength. But everybody saw that we still have problems in defence. Our new defence formation has to adapt before the start against Montenegro, as we conceded too many goals against Iceland.

 

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg
 
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