The second part of the "On the road to Nantes" series focuses on one of the most experienced players of the EHF Cup Finals hosts.
“To play Finals in Nantes would be huge,” says Dole
Frédéric Dole joined Nantes from Montpellier while the club was still in the second French league, and the winger, is having one a hell of a time since his arrival.
The well-rehearsed veteran reached the semi-finals of the EHF Champions League eight years ago and he would love to make another trip to the top four of the continental club competition. Eurohandball.com takes him in the spotlight in the second part of the EHF Cup star series "On the road to Nantes".
Dole speaks not only about his primary ambition this year, to play at the EHF Cup Finals on the home court of Palais des Sports de Beaulieu in Nantes.
eurohandball.com: You have been one of the main actors of the club's rise these last few years. How have you dealt with this period?
Frédéric Dole: Yeah, I'm one of the oldest guys in the club. Honestly, I feel so proud and happy about everything that has happened to Nantes so far. When I left Montpellier to come here, everybody thought I was crazy.
Without being pretentious, I think I've been one of the setting stones of a building which construction has started long before I came with the arrival of people who were visionaries and who wanted to make of Nantes a real professional structure.
By signing to Nantes, it probably made it a little bit easier for certain players to come, to show that yes the club's project is cool but that it is practical as well. I feel a sense of pride in the fact that the managers back then chose me and trusted me.
eurohandball.com: You have known quite a few European battles with Montpellier, and you found yourself back in the EHF Cup with Nantes last year. How do you get your experience across to the squad?
Frédéric Dole: I think I'm there to know when we've got to put the foot on the pedal or not, collectively speaking.
Knowing when we've got to take our time on the ground, or to put the pieces back again if it's needed. I think they are my roles in some of the hottest games.
eurohandball.com: Do you feel the team differently for this second European campaign?
Frédéric Dole: I think the squad has gained maturity, both in its behaviour and in the players that makes it.
We've had international players, who are used to international and even world-class games.
There are three world champions in the team now, so you can't teach these guys anything.
Last year we were knocked out of the competition by Minsk, and I think a lot has been learned by the squad from this defeat.
eurohandball.com: This year, the EHF has put a lot of trust in Nantes by giving the club the organisation of the EHF Cup Finals. The desire to take part in this, not only as a spectator, must be huge.
Frédéric Dole: To play the Finals in Nantes. That would be huge. The atmosphere surrounding European Cup games is totally different from the other games.
After all, I live here and making it to the Finals at home, is a massive objective. We are going to do everything to reach it, even if the road is paved with a lot of trials.
eurohandball.com: Was it a surprise for you, that your city´s bid won the rights for hosting the tournament?
Frédéric Dole: When I remember myself playing in our old venue, Mangin, with barely 1000 people in there, and when I think about the fact that now, we sell out our 5000 arena at every game, having seen two League Cups and soon the EHF Cup Finals taking place here.
Yes, Nantes has definitely made a big step. Of course it may have surprised some people that it was so quick, but at the beginning, I think everything was there for it to succeed. Some good opportunities were taken at the right time, and now it's ours to make it continue.
TEXT: Gaëlle Louis / cor
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