20220130 Gottfridsson SWE MVP
EHF EURO

Gottfridsson joins the greats as two-time MVP

C4 9374 EHF / Courtney Gahan

There are centre backs, then there are playmakers — and the MVP of the EHF EURO 2022, Jim Gottfridsson, is certainly the latter, if not more. He orchestrates Sweden’s attack, delivers assists and scores plenty of goals of his own, and has assumed increasing responsibility for how the team handles every moment of a match.

All of that has led the Swede to be named MVP of the EHF EURO for the second time — and the first MVP of the Men’s EHF EURO since 2014 to win the title.

Gottfridsson earned his first MVP nod when the record title holders returned to the final for the first time since 2002 in Croatia in 2018. He is the third player in history to record this achievement – and he joins an illustrious group indeed, with the other two being Croatian Ivano Balic (MVP in 2004 and 2006) and Frenchman Nikola Karabatic (2008 and 2014).

There have been many stars at the EHF EURO 2022, but no individual has stood out as far as the 29-year-old, especially on the final weekend. In the semi-final against Olympic title holders France, Gottfridsson scored nine goals out of 10 attempts and dished six assists, earning the Player of the Match award. His goals were all from the field and many came on great breakthroughs that tore France’s reputable defence apart. In the final, he netted three goals and tallied seven assists. 

Overall, he made 54 assists and scored 36 goals at the EHF EURO 2022 — the most in the competition. 

 

“My role is the leadership — others execute”

“He’s an amazing player. For himself in the game, one-against-one he’s really good. And he’s perfect for us as a team to organise how we’re playing and everything. He’s a leader for the team and I think he shows that, in every game for us. He’s amazing,” says fellow back Jonathan Carlsbogard of Gottfridsson.

Gottfridsson comments: “Of course, I play a core role in the attack. I have the experience and like to take this responsibility on and off the court. I like to have this role. It is not by nature, but by experience and mentality. But it is never about me – it is always about the team, so everybody has his role to play. My role is the leadership – others execute.”

Gottfridsson has certainly gathered some experience during his career. On the national team level, he has clinched three medals – the EHF EURO 2018 silver, the World Championship 2021 silver, and EHF EURO 2022 gold. Aside from the EHF EURO MVP awards, he was All-star Team centre back at last year’s World Championship and Swedish handball player of the year in 2018.

On the club side, Gottfridsson has played for Bundesliga powerhouse SG Flensburg-Handewitt for almost a decade, moving to the German club from his home side Ystads in 2013. With Flensburg, he won the EHF Champions League in 2014 and also has a collection of domestic titles.

20220130 Gottfridsson SWE TO

Its very normal that he decides what’s best for the team”

One of the most interesting elements that shows just how important Gottfridsson is for Sweden is the fact that he almost entirely leads the timeouts during games. Naturally, there is a great deal of preparation involving the team leadership and squad in general prior to games, but coach Glenn Solberg says it makes sense that the playmaker on court can give the most useful perspective on adjustments and ideas during a match.

“We are talking before the game, before training. We make a game plan together and we talk during the game,” says Solberg. “I was a playmaker myself and I know that when you are on the pitch you know better what to do than on the bench. For me, it’s very normal that he decides what’s best for the team.”

Sometimes Gottfridsson leads the timeout and other times he and Solberg have a chat first before going to the rest of the team. Gottfridsson says this is an approach that has evolved over time and is a natural consequence of his role and experience.

“We have a certain plan for the timeout. We all discuss some options before the match and then I take over and tell our plan for what we want to do. This is normal for us, that I talk and not Glenn. I am responsible for the attack, so this is my role.”

There is no doubt Gottfridsson has fulfilled that responsibility superbly at the EHF EURO 2022, guiding the team to a total of 252 goals scored — including the 27 that were enough to end their 20-year wait for a title.

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