Steins grabs his second chance with both hands
“It kind of felt like a revenge, in a way.”
This is how centre back Luc Steins described his feeling at the final buzzer of Paris Saint-Germain Handball’s quarter-final against THW Kiel. The 63:59 aggregate win earned the French side its ticket to the EHF FINAL4 2021, this weekend in Cologne.
“I just thought: ‘This is it. We have done it.’ I was so happy. We played the almost perfect game against Kiel at home. It was a lot of hard work, but it got us through there.”
Of course, it was no revenge in the true sense of the word, but Steins still had clearly on his mind what happened to him just before the 2020 edition of the EHF FINAL4 last December.
On the morning of the semi-final against Barça, the Dutch international tested positive for Covid-19 and was ruled out of what would have been his first EHF FINAL4.
“I won’t say it was a motivation during the second part of the season, but maybe subconsciously, it gave me a boost,” Steins said.
“We had everything prepared and all of sudden, everything went to the bin. It took me a couple of days to recover from this disappointment.”
Missing the EHF FINAL4 in December gave another twist to Steins’ unorthodox season.
He started 2020/21 like the year before, as a player of Fenix Toulouse. But when Nikola Karabatic badly injured his right knee in October, PSG turned to Steins as an immediate replacement.
So in November, Steins joined the Paris-based club on loan and suddenly was an EHF Champions League player with PSG – just four years after playing in the French second division.
“Yes, it has all been a little bit crazy. But I want this season to become even better by winning the EHF FINAL4,” Steins said.
“I tell myself every day that this is not the end of the road yet, that these two games in Cologne are the most important in the season.”
Meanwhile, Steins is an established player in the star-studded roster of PSG, which have signed him for at least another season, in 2021/22.
And to make things even better for the club, the player that Steins has been replacing is back: Karabatic has returned to the court just a few weeks before the EHF FINAL4 – a relief for the entire team.
“He is one of the best players ever, so, of course, his return is very welcome,” Steins said. “He has so much experience, has been through so much in handball that nothing can surprise him. His presence will be a great help for the team.”
Yes, it has all been a little bit crazy. But I want this season to become even better by winning the EHF FINAL4. I tell myself every day that this is not the end of the road yet, that these two games in Cologne are the most important in the season.
And PSG might need all help it can get in the semi-final against EHF FINAL4 debutants Aalborg Håndbold on Saturday at 15:15 CEST. PSG are unbeaten against the Danish side, but Karabatic & Co. know they cannot take anything for granted.
“Everything is possible there, history has proven it in the past,” Steins said, adding with a smile: “We definitely did not run around celebrating because we were not playing Barça.”
Steins has already won the French league and the French cup with PSG, his first trophies in France since his arrival in 2016.
Can he add one more this weekend?
“I would tell my 2016 self to never give up on his dream, to keep his head cool, even in the bad times and to keep working,” Steins said. “Because good things always end up coming.”