EHF Champions League

Young Richardson shining at the right time for Montpellier

Kevin Domas / cor

Young Richardson shining at the right time for Montpellier

For the first time in years, Melvyn Richardson has avoided a snow-covered winter thanks to his new home in Montpellier.

In Chambéry, where he played until last summer, snowballs and shivers were the norm for him, but things are now a little bit different in Montpellier.

“We went back to training at the beginning of January and the coach told us we would be running outside. That felt weird, it is the first time in my life I have been running outside in January,” says Richardson, who recently celebrated his 21st birthday.

The new year runs appear to have done him some good, as the left-hander scored eight goals in the 28:24 win in the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Elimination Round against Ademar Léon.

Proper preparation this winter

Of course, such an impressive performance is not merely down to some sun during the Christmas period.

After a psoas injury in November, Richardson was sidelined until January, but the French international made the most of this time and put a positive spin on his bad luck.

“I could not do anything, so I cannot say it helped me settle into the club, but, for once, I was able to prepare properly during the January break.

“The previous years, I was either playing with the junior national team or recovering from some tough physical problems. This time, I could focus on working physically and making up for the time I lost at the end of 2017.”

More responsibility

With Valentin Porte's ankle injury, which he sustained in a league match last week, Melvyn Richardson had more responsibility than usual in Leon.

He started the game, which was a first since his arrival, and proved to coach Patrice Canayer that he could count on him at this level.

Finding the back of the net eight times helped Montpellier take a crucial four-goal advantage home for the return game.

“I feel better and better here. Vid Kavticnik and I have to make up for Valentin's absence, even though he was playing at very high level lately,” explained Richardson.

And if you thought that the absence of the usual first choice right back might have put some more pressure on his young shoulders, think again.

“The two of us communicate a lot, he gives me a lot of advice. Of course, not having him in a team can be a problem, but we all have to prove that we can play well without him.”

Still a lot to learn

Melvyn Richardson appears ready to join the likes of Jure Dolenec and Valentin Porte as a star at right back for the club based in the south of France, but he is not getting ahead of himself. 

“I still have a lot learn. It is a gradual thing, I feel better on the court than I did six months ago, for sure.”

The 21-year-old has gone from being one of the most important players in Chambéry last season, to one of the many talented players in Montpellier. Such a change of status might be a problem for some youngsters with a big appetite, but Richardson appears to be handling it well.

“The coach told me that he did not want me to change the way I am and the way I play. Everybody has been very kind to me so far, and I hope I can pay everyone’s kindness back by becoming an important player at this club,” says Richardson, who is the son of France legend Jackson Richardson.

The former EHF Champions League winner has yet to give his feedback on his son’s best performance in the competition to date.

“I do not know what he thinks, I have not called him since. We talk a lot, we share a lot about handball, but we have not spoken since the game,” admits Melvyn, who looks set to be the next Richardson to make a name for himself in Europe’s elite club competition.

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