Gros aims for first Champions League trophy in Budapest
Over the last 10 seasons in the EHF Champions League Women, Slovenian right back Ana Gros has been one of the most consistent scorers in the competition, constantly delivering excellent performances, irrespective of the team she has played for.
Whether playing for Györi Audi ETO KC, Metz Handball, Brest Bretagne Handball or CSKA, Gros has never disappointed. She boasts an 808-goal tally in the European premium competition, enough for sixth place in the all-time standings.
In fact, the Slovenian right back has never scored fewer than 74 goals in the competition in the past six years, an excellent performance. Gros is also uncannily consistent, irrespective of the team she has turned out for, making her one of the great goal scorers in the competition's history.
But one thing is missing from Gros’ resume; a title in the EHF Champions League Women. She has made the final twice, first with Györ in the 2011/12 season and the second time with Brest Bretagne Handball in the EHF FINAL4 two seasons ago.
“I think it’s really time to win that trophy, right? I am not getting any younger,” jokes Gros, one of the players who really plays with a smile upon her face and is key for every team she featured in.
The Slovenian ace was snapped up by Györ in 2010, the Hungarian powerhouse identifying her potential after just one season at Krim Mercator Ljubljana, when Gros started her journey in the main European competition with 36 goals at only 18 years old.
However, as a player with limited experience, Gros could not become an immovable block for the Hungarian powerhouse, moving to pastures new in 2012, signing for Thüringer HC.
After a decade-long trip through Germany, France, Russia and Slovenia, Gros was signed once again by Györ to come full circle and now she is in just her second appearance in the EHF FINAL4, with another shot at the trophy she craves for so long.
“It has been an interesting season, with ups and downs, we lost three games, but we are here, in the FINAL4 and we will try to do the best we can to win the trophy. Of course, it is a big objective for us and I hope we can deliver the best performances for the title,” adds Gros.
The 32-year-old Slovenian right back has been crucial for Györ’s success this season, being the top scorer of the side by a large margin, putting 25 goals more past the opponents than any other teammate. She enters the EHF FINAL4 as the tenth best scorer in the EHF Champions League Women, with 87 goals.
Her presence on the court unlocked plenty of creativity in attack, adding more layers to an already excellent unit on that side of the ball for Györ, with defences forced to keep a close eye on Gros. With the experience gained over the last few seasons, Gros has slotted immediately into the squad and has performed at a high level throughout the whole season. Her successful transfer seems to have brought exactly what was needed for Györ.
She has scored at least eight goals in six games and netted 19 of Györ’s 66 goals in the quarter-finals against Odense, with some crucial moments in the first leg, helping her side mount a comeback from a six-goal deficit.
Now, Györ hope Gros will continue her excellent run of form, 13 years after first signing her from Krim, a big bet for the Hungarian side which failed to work in the first stint, but produced excellent results in the second one.
“There is no room for error now,” says Gros, when asked about Györ’s chances at the EHF FINAL4. The Hungarian powerhouse will rekindle its rivalry with Vipers Kristiansand in the semi-finals, one year on after they lost the final 31:33 last season.
“These are the top four teams in Europe right now, so we cannot pick an opponent. If the draw said Vipers for us, this is the way it should be. Of course, the games will be tough, but I hope we will win the title,” says Gros.
If Györ do win the title, then it would be the crowning achievement for Gros, who took a difficult path to greatness, but still achieved excellent results in the European top competition. A title would only cement her legacy, as Gros is primed to become of the few players to break the 1,000-goal mark in the European premium competition, a feature only achieved by Jovanka Radicevic, former teammate Anita Görbicz and Cristina Neagu.
Photos © Aniko Kovacs