Interview with the Spanish world champion and Rhein-Neckar Löwen line player, Gedeon Guardiola, ahead of his clubs EHF Cup match against KIF Kolding
Guardiola: "All the hard work has been worth it"
Gédeon Guardiola joined the EHF Cup participant, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, in July 2012.
Apart from helping his club to reach the competition's group phase, his career propelled to new heights in January when he was part of the Spanish national team that won the 2013 World Championship on home soil.
In this interview Guardiola gives some insights on how a Spaniard celebrates such a title and what he does to give it all he has for Rhein-Neckar Löwen.
A few weeks have passed since you won the 2013 World Championship with Spain. Have you fully realised what you achieved?
Gédeon Guardiola: It took a while, but by now I have. Taking part at a world championship, is always something special – especially if the tournament takes place in your home country. And we even topped that by winning the title on home soil. That’s simply the best.
What else makes this victory so special for you?
Gédeon Guardiola: We made a lot of people happy. My family and my wife are incredibly proud of me. And I finally know: All the hard work, all the effort, the numerous hours of training I have put in – it has been worth it. I’m now a world champion.
We assume you celebrated accordingly…
Gédeon Guardiola: After the final the team and the entire coaching staff went out for dinner. Our families were also present. After the dinner we had a big night out. It became very, very late.
Your twin brother Isaias could only follow the final on TV. Do you feel sorry for him?
Gédeon Guardiola: I have tried everything to get him to Barcelona for the final. But there was a training session with Rhein-Neckar Löwen scheduled the next day and there was no flight that would have brought him back in time. It would have been the icing on the cake, had I become world champion together with my brother. But I am sure, if he continues to work hard, he’ll get another chance to play for the national team.
You beat Denmark 35:19 in the final. Was that the best performance a Spanish national team has shown in recent years?
Guardiola: That’s hard to say. It’s true that we have played a very good game in which everything went according to plan. Our goalkeepers were brilliant, the defence was impeccable and our attacked converted the chances it got. I think we wrote handball history with this confident win, however, we have to admit that the Danes did not have their best day after all.
The Spanish team has also been criticised for its style of handball. Some said that your game was not attractive.
Gédeon Guardiola: I don’t think you can put it that way. We got better and better as the tournament progressed and showed our best performance in the final. That’s why we are a worthy world champion.
You beat Germany in the quarter-final. Was that match special for you?
Gédeon Guardiola: Of course, especially because I’m playing in the Bundesliga. Spain is my home country, but it’s in Germany where I live and work. You can’t deny that. It was a fantastic game and Germany have a strong day. One day they will win a title again.
But that’s not that easy as you very well know yourself.
Gédeon Guardiola: Definitely. At the EHF EURO 2012 we lost the semi-final 24:25 against the coming EHF EURO champions, Denmark, and we didn’t agree with some of the decisions the referees made. At the 2012 Olympic Games we lost 22:23 in the penultimate second against France who then went on to become Olympic champions.
At the past tournaments what we lacked was a tiny bit of luck. All of us in the national team had been deeply disappointed, but now we have overcome this. The time of suffering has come to an end. We have proven that we are a great team that can win the important matches.
You are known for your skills in defence and you know Julen Aguinagalde from the national team. He caused massive problems to the German defence. Can you tell us the secret how to stop this 113-kilogram-giant?
Gédeon Guardiola: He must not get the ball. Once he has it in his hands, he is unstoppable. He moves incredibly well, he is always ready to receive the next pass. He knows that he will always take the one or the other blow, but that doesn’t bother him. He belongs the best line players in the world.
In Spanish football it took a long until the players from Barcelona and Madrid got along with each other. What’s the situation like in handball?
Gédeon Guardiola: There is no problem whatsoever. The handball players might not be as prominent as their football counterparts, but they don’t have any air and graces either. The marketing and the media interest for football is massive. It can happen fast that one loses base in all this hype.
The world championship title for Germany in 2007 caused a huge handball boom. Do you think the same can happen in Spain?
Gédeon Guardiola: That’s what I hope for, because my country isn’t in the best state. The financial crisis has harmed many, also handball and other sports are suffering. Many stars left the Spanish league because some clubs were lacking money.
This world championship definitely increased the interest for handball in Spain. However, I doubt that the tournament will solve all economic problems. If all the predictions come true, the country is still in for a hard time.
You have joined Rhein-Neckar Löwen together with your brother? Did you have to think about the move for long?
Gédeon Guardiola: No. When Isaias (his brother) and myself had the opportunity to come to Germany, it didn’t take long for us to decide. Rhein-Neckar Löwen are a well-run club, the Bundesliga is the world’s best league. We liked the challenge to try something new.
What is different compared to Spain?
Gédeon Guardiola: In Germany every match is like a little final, the matches are more intense. Also some things are handled with more professionalism. I had never done a cool-down programme after a match.
Your strengths are in defence. The same is true for your teammate Oliver Roggisch. What do you value the most in him?
Gédeon Guardiola (laughs): Oli always gives 100 per cent, even during every warm-up session. He isn’t the best neither in football nor in basketball but always tries to give it all he has.
Straight after the world championship you had to play for Rhein-Neckar Löwen again? How quickly did you manage that switch?
Gédeon Guardiola: It happened as soon as I came back to Germany. I want to win every match with Löwen. Therefore it’s not difficult for me to focus on that.
This is an edited and translated version of an interview with Gédeon Guardiola which originally appeared on the Rhein-Neckar Löwen website. It is published on www.eurohandball.com with the permission of the German club.
TEXT: Rhein-Neckar Löwen / ts
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