THIS IS ME

THIS IS ME

The 'This is me' series enters its fourth season, focusing once again on the best of the best, the protagonists of the playing courts around Europe. Told exclusively in their own words through EHFCL Weekly, players share their unique life stories.

Whether it's fate or family, the best players in the world reveal how they rose to handball stardom. How they fell in love with the sport. How they overcame adversity. How they became the person they are and how handball has shaped their lives on and off the court.

This is them. Don't miss it! 

GISLI KRISTJANSSON

As SC Magdeburg took their second EHF Champions League title last season, after a 21-year wait, there was perhaps no player more memorable than centre back Gisli Kristjansson — the MVP of the EHF FINAL4 2023, who had overcome two serious injuries, making for an incredible story of determination and fortitude. The story, though, began long ago in Iceland.

Read Gisli's story here.

ALINA GRIJSEELS

Alina Grijseels rose to prominence during a nine-season stint with Dortmund, demanding attention in the EHF Champions League in 2020/21 and 2021/22 in particular. But in the background, she was dealing with the cancer diagnosis and eventual death of her partner. In the aftermath and still existing grief, she is finding her way forward, with high hopes for her career and personal journey.

Read Alina's story here.

ANDREAS PALICKA

Things could have turned out differently for Andreas Palicka, but a change from an outfield player to a goalkeeper not only helped him become one of the greatest shot stoppers in Sweden’s history, but a true icon as well in handball. His story is about defeating perceptions, proving that hard work can make dreams come true and forging a path for himself in a tough and competitive world.

Read Andreas's story here.

JENNY CARLSON

Brest Bretagne and Sweden centre back Jenny Carlson has faced one of the biggest obstacles any person can: a serious illness, ulcerative colitis, which resulted in a life-altering surgery from which doctors were not sure she would recover well enough to return to the court. Recover she did, and Carlson has gone from strength to strength since. 

Read Jenny's story.

RINKA DUIJNDAM

For Rinka Duijndam, handball in its early years was all about fun. Navigating the world of professional sport brought new focuses and as she tried to find her place there, Duijndam ended up losing her joy in the game and ultimately herself. Now she has found both again, after a rewarding journey.

Read Rinka's story.

DIKA MEM

From the grey, Northern suburbs of Paris to the sun and beaches of Barcelona, the road has not always been a steady one for Machineseeker EHF Champions League star at Barça and Men's EHF EURO 2024 gold medallist with France, Dika Mem. But, by staying true to himself and always believing in his fate, the left-hander made it to the top of world handball. And he tells us his story.

Read Dika's story.

ANGELA MALESTEIN

She was once the player on the fringe rather than on the court, which meant she had to work harder and harder to achieve the dream she held tight since childhood. Her story is about never giving up, self-belief and self-responsibility, with important help from family and teammates that became friends.

Read Angela's story.

RODRIGO CORRALES 

Without his lifelong friendships, he would never have found handball, would never have realised his dream of playing for Barça and never have had such success between the posts at the highest level. Now a family man reaching the autumn of his career, Rodrigo sits down and tells us his story of how he got here, and the friends he made along the way, in his own words.

Read Rodrigo's story.

LOUISE BURGAARD

"I will never be Nikola Karabatic, Ivano Balic, Anja Andersen and Katrine Fruelund at the same time, as I once thought I could. But in the end, I will be myself," Louise Burgaard says. The Danish right back is herself, every time she steps on the court. From playing the Olympics at age 19 to finding her place in Metz, Burgaard shares her career journey.

Read Louise's story.

MIRSAD TERZIC

40 years of age and still playing at the highest level, very few have been on a handball road as long, winding and fascinating as Orlen Wisla Plock's "Terza". A defensive wall on the court and a family man off it, the star from Sarajevo takes us through his journey in his own words.

Read Mirsad's story.

VERONICA KRISTIANSEN

The Kristiansen family bond is quite something, and for Veronica, it is that love and support that only a close-knit family can provide that has allowed her to blossom into one of the finest handball players of her generation. Now, in her own words, the Győr and Norway star tells her full story.

Read Veronica's story.

ELOHIM PRANDI

His mother and father both represented France at the highest level, but that does not mean Elohim Prandi's journey to the top in handball was easy or straightforward - far from it. The Paris Saint-Germain Handball star has bravely battled his way through life, and this is his journey, in his own words.

Read Elohim's story.

KARL KONAN

Many top sports careers come from dedication, hard work, and a lot of sacrifices. And: sticking to your dreams. Karl Konan knows all about it. The Montpellier HB defender is on a career path unlike any other, coming along way from Ivory Coast to play for one of the best teams in Europa. Now a French international, Konan shares his impressive story with us in his own words.

Read Karl's story.

ESTAVANA POLMAN

At 18 years old, Estavana Polman left the Netherlands to move to Denmark and play handball. 12 years later, she is one of the most accomplished centre backs in handball,  yet her path to greatness was not easy. Brace yourself for a fabulous ride.

Read Estavana's story.

THIAGUS PETRUS

One of the best defenders in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League over recent years, Thiagus Petrus Gonçalves dos Santos has made history for Brazil, becoming one of the most decorated South American players of all-time. With Barça, Thiagus Petrus won the title in the premier European competition twice, in 2021 and 2022, and has become a key cog of the team. Now, the Brazilian star shares his story in another instalment of the “This is Me” series. 

Read Thiagus' story

DRAGANA CVIJIC

Initially a goalkeeper when she started to play handball as a girl, Dragana Cvijic has developed into one of the leading line players for many years on the European handball courts. Cvijic won the EHF Champions League twice with Buducnost – in 2012 and 2015 – and helped Serbia take silver at the 2013 IHF Women's World Championship. The Serbian star shares her career journey, full of ups and downs.

Read Dragana's story.

NIKOLA PORTNER

The son of a handball legend who now has almost as many EHF Champions League winner's medals, Nikola Portner looked up to his father while growing up as a foreigner in Switzerland. A dedicated goalkeeper, he has become one of the finest players between the posts in the modern era, and has family values and being thrown in at the deep end from a young age to thank.

Read Nikola's story.

ALLISON PINEAU

A self-described "jack of all trades", women's top-level handball is hardly imaginable without Allison Pineau, the French star that has been one of the prominent faces of the game for so long. Now, probably in the last season of her career, and playing for Krim Mercator Ljubljana, Pineau reflects on her life on and off the court in this episode of our This Is Me series.

Read Allison's story.

AHMED HESHAM

Shaped by a family tragedy at such a young age, Ahmed Hesham went on to become a Youth World Champion and take his national team to a historic first Olympic semi-final. In this instalment of our This Is Me series, the Egyptian talent takes us through his early life, his career in France and much more.

Read Ahmed's story.

MILENA RAICEVIC

WHC Buducnost BEMAX’s evergreen Milena Raicevic brings quantity – she is among the top four players with the most EHF Champions League seasons – and quality, winning Europe’s topflight twice, and earning Olympic silver and EHF EURO gold with Montenegro in 2012. On the flip side, she had to come through difficult times in her personal life even from a young age. 

Read Milena's story.

LUKA STEPANCIC

For all that he has previously achieved, one of the biggest highlights in the career of Luka Stepančić is that he is back playing handball at the top level again. The Croatian standout has gone through more than two years of injury worries, which kept him away from the courts. In this episode of our This is me series, Stepančić talks in his own words about his family, his rise to the elite of international handball, and how the birth of his son Jakov helped him to push through his revalidation period.

Read Luka's story. 

BARBARA ARENHART

A self-described nomad when it comes to club handball, but the first name in more ways than one for her national team for many years, Barbara Arenhart's handball journey has had many exciting chapters. It's time, now, for the RK Krim goalkeeper to take us through her story.

Read "Babi's" story.

GONZALO PÉREZ DE VARGAS

A four-time EHF Champions League winner, a two-time EHF EURO champion and at multiple medallist at the Olympics and World Championship, Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas has seen it all and nearly won it all from between the posts for Barça and Spain. But do not let us tell you his story, hear from the extraordinary goalkeeper yourself.

Read Gonzalo's story.

CRISTINA NEAGU

Our popular series with stars telling their story in their own words is returning – and how! We open the fourth season with Romanian standout Cristina Neagu, for so many years now one of the brightest shining stars and biggest record breakers of women’s handball. An EHF Champions League winner and four times IHF Player of the Year shares the story of her life, in her own words. 

Read Cristina's story. 

 

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