This is me: Lasse Svan

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EHF / Björn Pazen

A great handball career is approaching its end. Lasse Svan – Danish international, GOG star, SG Flensburg-Handewitt evergreen – will call it a career in June. In this episode of our This is Me… series, the 38-year-old looks back, but also forward as he shares his opinions and emotions with the readers of eurohandball.com.

This is me: Lasse Svan

I'm from the small town of Store Heddinge - and as a boy I tried many different sports before finally taking up handball at Sierslev HK. Before I was twice Seeland champion in billiards. At the age of 19 I finally switched to GOG in Gudme and today I'm 38 years old and have only played for two clubs: GOG and SG Flensburg-Handewitt.

In the six years with GOG, we won two Danish championships and three cups - and I became a Danish international. Now the end of my career is imminent, I've already said goodbye to the national team. My last dream is to compete again at the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne next month. Being there in June would be the very last games of my career.

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During my long time in Flensburg, I saw a lot of outstanding players saying goodbye, and it's best when you go with a title, like Thomas Mogensen, Jacob Heinl and Tobias Karlsson who said farewell as German champions. It's something special to win a trophy in your last game and winning the EHF Champions League is the last chance for a trophy in my last season.

When all my teammates say that we still want to win this and that for Lasse Svan, that shows the great appreciation the team has for me, they all want to give me the perfect farewell. It's amazing when everyone thinks of you.

The fact that I've won all the important titles in handball is simply unbelievable - I'm world champion, European champion, Olympic champion, won the European Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions League, became German champion and German cup winner. I stand in line with Niklas Landin, Nikola Karabatic, Thierry Omeyer, Daniel Narcisse and Joel Abati. If someone had told me that a few years ago, I would have just shaken my head.

I think back to a conversation when my best friends Thomas Mogensen and Anders Eggert and I stood together after winning the EHF Champions League in Cologne. In 2012 we had become European champions together, now we had won the EHF Champions League. Then I said jokingly: Now we only need gold at the World Championships and the Olympics, then we can end our careers. In 2016 and 2019 I also won these titles - simply unbelievable. That would never have been a realistic goal, I would never have thought it possible that I would be able to experience it one day. And then two more German Bundesliga trophies with the SG.

All of this makes me incredibly proud. I'll be able to look back on it after my career - not many have achieved what I've achieved, but of course I've always played in great teams, with outstanding players. Still, it's hard to believe what I was allowed to experience.

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The EHF Champions League semi-final 2014 against Barcelona in Cologne is of course one of the games that will be at the top of my career when I look back. It wasn't just the success itself, but the team and the way the win came about. I will never forget that. We were six goals behind, there were eight minutes left, we had one player less on the court, Barcelona had the ball. Then we managed to draw and made it to the penalty shoot-out, win and a day later became EHF Champions League winners, against our arch-rival Kiel of all places in the final. It was all legendary. That semi-final against Barcelona is in a row with our even crazier quarter-final with Denmark against Egypt 2021 in Cairo, which we also won after two periods of extra-time in a penalty shoot-out and later became world champions.

I announced the end of my career early so that I could concentrate and focus on my last season for Flensburg and for the national team. That was good for me, after all, these questions would have come up all the time otherwise, because everyone knew that my contract expires in the summer 2022. That's why I made a conscious decision to communicate so early on.

Since November 2021 I’m also the record player for SG Flensburg-Handewitt as the successor to the legendary Lars Christiansen - that's actually blasphemy towards him. I played with him for two years, I was at his farewell game and I never thought at the time that I would play for this one club for 14 years, after six years with GOG seemed incredibly long.

Lars is SG, Lars is the club's symbol, the square in front of our arena was named after him - and now I've taken his record away from him. The 14 years went by so quickly, now I've played more games in the SG jersey than he has, scored more field goals than him, that's absolutely crazy. I've enjoyed every game for SG, all the highs, all the lows - and I've learned a lot about myself in the process.

And the most important thing: I have met so many friends for life, so many great people with whom I will hopefully stay in contact for a long time after my career. I was allowed to play and celebrate titles with my best buddies Andres and Thomas - but I've grown fond of many more people. However, others will have to decide whether a Lasse-Svan-Square in Flensburg will be named after me.

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Which title was the most beautiful one? - I was often asked that. I don't know, however: If I were to stand on the winner's podium in Cologne on June 19, it would certainly be one of the best, as it would also be the last one. The title that means the most to me was definitely World Championship gold in 2019. For the first time we won the world championship with Denmark, and at home - and I was part of it, unbelievable. We dominated this tournament so much. With the exception of the opening game in Copenhagen and the semi-final in Hamburg, we played all games in front of 15,000 fans in Herning, it was an incredible tournament.

And what a party in Copenhagen! Tens of thousands of people came to the town hall balcony, lined up on the way from the airport, the police had to block the streets because so many people came. These images will stay in my mind for the rest of my life.

I think I was one of the few in the national team at the time who could remember 1992, when the Danish footballers celebrated their sensational gold medal at the European Championships on this town hall square. I saw this celebration on TV and just thought to myself: how awesome it must be to be there and celebrate with the people. And then I'll be there myself as a world champion - unbelievable.

My farewell from the national team unfortunately did not end with another title, but with bronze at the European Championships in Budapest in January. And when the game was over, all the other players threw me up and celebrated me. There and at my farewell game for the national team in Copenhagen in April, I noticed how happy everyone else was to give me the best possible farewell, this sense of community was indescribable. I was so proud and happy to feel what I mean to others, I've felt that very intensely over the past few months, and I'm really grateful for that.

After this season it will be over - and I will definitely not become a handball coach or manager. I want to get away from handball first. I'll play a lot of golf to have a better handicap than our national coach Nikolaj Jacobsen. I'm going back to Kolding, moving into the house where my family already lives - and my neighbor is Anders Eggert, our two families will go on holiday together after the end of the season.

During my time as a handball player, I started working as a mental coach - and I will practice this profession in future. I want to train athletes and business executives mentally, I've seen in my career how important mental strength is to be successful. At the same time, I want to test how long I can be without handball without missing this sport. I'm looking forward to a life without handball, but I also know that handball meant so much my life. Handball - especially in Flensburg - was more for me: the SG is like a family and a friendship.

This is me

Lasse Svan
May 2022

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