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Dissinger’s winding road back to Gislason and Germany

EHF / Björn Pazen

Since the Rio Olympic Games, Christian Dissinger has not worn the German national team jersey at a major tournament - and the 2016 Olympics are also symbolic for the career of the 29-year-old, which had been thrown off-course by many severe injuries.

Because in Rio, the left back had to undergo an operation after a heavy bruise and had to cross his fingers for his teammates from the hospital as they fought for their bronze medal.

Some months earlier, Dissinger had almost the same fate at the EHF EURO in Germany. He played very well until the main round match against Russia, then was ruled out by a severe hip injury, was replaced by Julius Kühn as Germany went on to win the title.

A career of disruptions 

After Dissinger became an under 21 world champion in Greece in 2011 and was named MVP, nothing stood in the way of a great career. Somewhat surprisingly, he did not join a big Bundesliga club from Friesenheim, but to the Swiss champions Kadetten Schaffhausen. In his first EHF Champions League game against Barcelona, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, and the same injury followed again after his comeback a year later.

But Dissinger fought his way back, finally signed a contract with Atletico Madrid in 2013 - a short time later the Spanish club filed for bankruptcy. After a detour in Nettelstedt, Christian Dissinger finally came to THW Kiel and while playing under Alfred Gislason, he became a national team player.

After those many injuries in 2016, Dissinger decided against playing at the World Championship 2017 to focus on his club. In autumn 2018, Dissinger finally moved from Kiel to Vardar and sensationally won the EHF Champions League with the Macedonian club in 2019, although the players had not received a salary for many months and many stars had already left Vardar at this point.

Dissinger stayed in Skopje as the club is now financially back on the right track. “In terms of handball skills I definitely developed at Skopje,” the tall shooter says. Now he is back in the spotlight of the national team - for the first time since Rio 2016. Alfred Gislason, who had coached Dissinger for three years in Kiel, approached the backcourt player in his new role as national team coach in autumn - after Dissinger had played not played any international match in the era of Gislason's predecessor Christian Prokop.

I want to get involved

Without the impact of Corona, Dissinger would have celebrated his comeback already in November in the EHF EURO 2022 qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Estonia, but because several positive COVID-19 cases had occurred in his club, he had to return to Skopje without even meeting his teammates.

"I now know about quarantine," says Dissinger, who was also been infected with the virus and has already passed six periods of quarantine in Skopje. The same applies to Andreas Wolff, except Dissinger the only German international who is not active in the Bundesliga, playing in Kielce.

He was also in quarantine again before the current course of the national team - albeit with his family in Germany. “You recognise immediately that Christian did not have any team training for five weeks due to the situation in Skopje. Therefore he will need time,"says Gislason: “But mainly in defence he can be very important after many players are not on our list, such as Wiencek, Pekeler or Weinhold."

If everything goes well, Dissinger will play his 20 and 21 international matches on Wednesday in Graz  and on Sunday in Cologne as a double-header in the EHF EURO qualification against Austria. In Cologne, of all places, where he celebrated his greatest success on club level by winning the Champions League in 2019.

“After such a long time it is great to be back in training with the national team again. The first units were of course tough after my long break. Many things were new, but I still know a lot of the players,” says Dissinger, who wants to get ready step by step in the new environment: “The team's result is what counts, my role does not matter at first, but I want to contribute to the team. I want to get involved, then we will see how far we're going at the World Championship.”

Physically, Dissinger feels fit despite the many breaks: “What I miss is the feeling for handball, the quickness of action. In a way, this is how you feel in the summer in preparation for the season."

Dissinger had never wanted to quit playing for the national team since his break in 2017 and when Alfred Gislason called in October, he did not have to ask twice.

“It was never out of the question that I wanted to play again, but the timing was never right, also because I was injured every now and then, that is just part of my life. Alfred and I had a relatively simple conversation. I want to play for the national team again and now I am here.”

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