EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: HSV captain Pascal Hens discusses the significance of the EHF Cup and his maiden voyage in the competition.
My personal trophy collection does not matter
EHF EURO champion in 2004, Cup Winners’ Cup winner in 2007, world champion in 2007, Olympic finalist in 2004 and VELUX EHF Champions League winner in 2013 - Pascal Hens has won almost every prize on offer at handball's highest level. But the 34-year-old left back could yet add another title to his collection, as he fights for the EHF Cup with HSV Hamburg.
The German star is taking part in the EHF Cup for the first time this season and he and his teammates have their sights set high.
HSV have made a bright start to the competition and can book their ticket to the quarter-finals with victory against Gorenje Velenje on Saturday.
But before that crucial match, which can be followed on ehfTV.com live, Hens took time out to talk to eurohandball.com.
eurohandball.com: You have had a long successful career but are currently experiencing your maiden voyage in the EHF Cup. What is the difference compared to being a part of the VELUX EHF Champions League and other international competitions?
Pascal Hens: "For us players the difference is not that big. We travel, we prepare for our opponents, and it is exhausting, but varied. The major difference is the media coverage of the Champions League – but that is why it is the Champions League."
eurohandball.com: Three wins, one defeat - what is your assessment of your performance in the EHF Cup group phase so far?
Pascal Hens (laughing): "We would rather have a clear record of four wins by now, but we stupidly lost the match at Haslum. But this is sport. There are so many reasons you could name for this defeat, but maybe it was a warning signal and the wake-up call at the right time."
eurohandball.com: In 2007 you won the Cup Winners' Cup, in 2013 it was the VELUX EHF Champions League trophy – how important would the EHF Cup title be for your personal cabinet?
Pascal Hens: "Handball is a team sport, so it really does not matter if my personal collection or cabinet is lacking any trophy or not, or how I think about another individual title. It is all about the club and the city of Hamburg being part of another international competition."
eurohandball.com: Are Hamburg strong enough to qualify for the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin?
Pascal Hens: "Definitely, yes. But everything must fit to reach this goal. On the one hand we have proved that we can beat any opponent, on the other hand we can suffer surprises like in Haslum. But if we remain free of major injuries, it will be hard for any team to beat us."
eurohandball.com: Do you agree that the German teams are the main contenders for the four tickets to Berlin?
Pascal Hens: "I think that in general they belong to the group of favourites."
eurohandball.com: Since 2006, HSV Hamburg have consistently been part of international competitions – how important is this to the club?
Pascal Hens: "Very important. It is our constant demand to play on the international stage. We have to work on our image, and therefore the EHF Cup is a perfect European-wide platform."
eurohandball.com: The HSV squad has changed substantially since the start of the season – are you now even more of a key figure in this team?
Pascal Hens: "Maybe, I don’t know. I want to pass my experience to the rest of the team and I like to help the team in the best possible way. I really get along with the next generation in a perfect way, so if anyone in the team needs any advice he is more than welcome to ask me."
TEXT: Björn Pazen / jh
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