Ryu: “When I saw the Györ fans, I felt we are connected”
Ryu Eun-hee is an exceptional player – not just because she is one of only few Koreans competing for a European top club.
Ryu is a standout right back, with her own style of playing the game.
She first came to Europe in 2019 to play for Paris 92, but left France again last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. This summer she returned to Europe to join Györi Audi ETO KC.
In her first six DELO EHF Champions League matches for the Hungarian powerhouse, Ryu has netted 25 times, helping her side to the top spot in group B with six wins from as many games.
On the eve of Györ’s match against Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK on Saturday (live on EHFTV at 18:00 CET), eurohandball.com caught up with Ryu to talk about her first months with the record EHF Champions League winners.
eurohandball.com: How did you get to start playing handball as a child?
Ryu Eun-hee: I have always loved to play something with a ball, and back then I wanted to become a football player. However, my mother did not want me to do that. She recommended that I should try handball because my elementary school had a squad in that sport. So, I joined the team and I instantly began to like playing handball. It was love at first sight.
eurohandball.com: Who had the biggest impact on the beginning of your career?
Ryu Eun-hee: My parents, they mean everything to me. They are always very helpful and support me. Without them I could not fulfil my dreams.
eurohandball.com: When did you realise that you could become a professional player?
Ryu Eun-hee: Well, as soon as I entered high school, many professional clubs contacted me to sign. That was the point when I truly understood that I could reach the next level.
eurohandball.com: You are back in Europe for a second time. What are the main differences with the Korean league?
Ryu Eun-hee: Here are more tournaments, which means much more games as well as opponents. In Korea, only eight different teams play in the domestic national league and the season is done in only three months – not to mention the size and speed of the players. Only the best athletes can play in Europe, therefore the players are stronger and faster in general.
In Györ there is only one goal: winning everything. I think the same, as we want to reconquer the Hungarian league title and get back on the throne of the Champions League.
eurohandball.com: You have joined one of the best clubs in the world during the summer. What were the biggest questions marks at the beginning for you?
Ryu Eun-hee: Györ are surely one of the most successful clubs in handball’s recent history. I know that the bar is always set high; simply the finest players play here. I was worried at first, but now, as I got to know my teammates and the staff, I have confidence and we feel each other better and better on the court. In Györ there is only one goal: winning everything. I think the same, as we want to reconquer the Hungarian league title and get back on the throne of the Champions League.
eurohandball.com: Was it difficult to settle after arriving at such club full of stars?
Ryu Eun-hee: I have not had any big trouble in my game since I arrived, apart from the fact that everything is new. However, there are minor things mostly coming with the language barrier. As the line-up is international, there are plenty of foreign languages around me and it is difficult to remember every little word. Thankfully, the main language is English, so I do not need to learn others. But the signals from the coaching staff are completely different compared to ours in Korea. I believe that as soon as I have learnt every little detail, I can help my team better.
eurohandball.com: So, how is your Hungarian?
Ryu Eun-hee: Honestly, I am not as good in English yet as I wanted to, so I have not begun to study Hungarian. I think I should focus on learning English at this moment as this is how we communicate at ETO. Naturally, there are some words I already know, but not so much.
eurohandball.com: And what about the Hungarian cuisine?
Ryu Eun-hee: Since I am not used to Hungarian food yet, I mostly cook Korean dishes at home. However, I am trying Hungarian food as much as possible.
eurohandball.com: Looking back at your first months in Györ, what has been your experience with the local fans?
Ryu Eun-hee: I will never forget my first game in Europe’s top flight in front of the home crowd in Györ’s jersey. When I saw the Györ fans, I felt we are connected. I had goosebumps.