MVP Gottfridsson leads seven-nation All-star Team
Swedish centre back Jim Gottfridsson has been named Most Valuable Player of the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 after leading his team to their sixth EHF EURO final.
Gottfridsson, who had scored 33 goals and assisted in a further 47 prior to Sunday’s final, heads a list of players from seven countries in this year’s All-star Team.
It is Gottfridsson’s second MVP award at an EHF EURO, after he previously scooped the title when Sweden won silver in 2018. He is the third player to win two EHF EURO MVP awards, after Croatia’s Ivano Balic in 2004 and 2006 and France’s Nikola Karabatic in 2008 and 2014.
Gottfridsson’s teammate Oscar Bergendahl was named best defender after a strong performance in only his second major tournament for Sweden.
Denmark also have two players represented in the All-star Team: left back Mikkel Hansen and right back Mathias Gidsel. Hansen has previously made the EHF EURO All-star Team three times (2012, 2014 and 2018). Only Balic, with three All-star Team places between 2004 and 2008 in addition to his two MVP awards, has featured more than Hansen.
None of this year’s All-star Team was named to the team in 2020, and Hansen and Gottfridsson are the only players to have previously reached an EHF EURO All-star Team.
The team was chosen through a fan vote attracting over 10,000 votes via the Home of Handball App, combined with the views of a panel of EHF experts.
Goalkeeper: Viktor Hallgrímsson (Iceland)
When Iceland’s first-choice goalkeeper Björgvin Pall Gustavsson was sidelined after testing positive for Covid-19, his 21-year-old backup Viktor Hallgrímsson stepped up – and how. He proved pivotal in Iceland’s victory against France in the main round, and stayed at that level throughout the rest of their time in the tournament. Shouts of “Viktor Gisli” will surely be ringing out when Iceland play for many years to come.
Left wing: Milos Vujovic (Montenegro)
This year’s championship was Montenegro’s best EHF EURO for some time, and one of the reasons for that was Milos Vujovic. His spectacular in-flight goals caught attention and he was also Montenegro’s main penalty scorer – plus he notched up seven steals during the course of the tournament. Vujovic only improved throughout the competition, and was deservedly named Grundfos Player of the Match in Montenegro’s final main round game against Iceland.
Left back: Mikkel Hansen (Denmark)
For a record fourth time, Mikkel Hansen reaches the EHF EURO All-star Team – his 12th All-star nomination at a major championships over the course of his career. With 48 goals across seven matches prior to the bronze-medal match, Hansen remains the lynchpin of Denmark’s attack, consistently inspiring his teammates.
Centre back: Luc Steins (Netherlands)
Luc Steins caught the attention of the handball world when he was loaned to Paris Saint-Germain as a replacement for the injured Nikola Karabatic in late 2020 – and his performance at the EHF EURO 2022 has only solidified his reputation as a playmaker. His nimble, fast play has caused havoc for his opponents and he is adept in assisting his teammates, particularly right back Kay Smits, to score.
Right back: Mathias Gidsel (Denmark)
Mathias Gidsel adds EHF EURO All-star right back to the Olympic Games MVP award and World Championship All-star Team position he scooped last year, after making his international debut only one year ago. At the beginning of the tournament it looked as though Gidsel was going to be unable to miss a shot – he had a perfect record after the preliminary round, scoring 21 goals from 21 shots. After the semi-finals, that effectiveness had slipped to a still-enormous 90 per cent. But Gidsel’s importance to Denmark goes beyond goals, as he assisted more shots than any other of his teammates.
Right wing: Aleix Gómez (Spain)
The Barça wing Aleix Gómez shone particularly brightly in Spain’s semi-final victory against Sweden. Coming into his own in the second half, Gómez out-ran and out-scored Sweden, earning himself a Grundfos Player of the Match award for his 11 goals. But he has been consistently strong throughout a tournament where the wings have played important roles.
Line player – Johannes Golla (Germany)
While Germany’s tournament was troubled by Covid-19 cases, line player Johannes Golla acted as a rock in both the attack and centre of the defence. No German player had more time on court than Golla, who spent an average of 49 minutes on court for each of his team’s seven EHF EURO 2022 matches, and was their highest scorer with 28 goals.
Best defender – Oscar Bergendahl (Sweden)
Line player Bergendahl made his international debut for Sweden at the World Championship last year, but has really come into his own at the EHF EURO 2022. He might not be the biggest player out there, but he uses his physicality to great effect and the 26-year-old has become central to Sweden’s defence as a result.
MVP – Jim Gottfridsson (Sweden)
When Sweden take a timeout, their coach Glenn Solberg steps back and lets Jim Gottfridsson do the talking. And there’s a reason for that. Gottfridsson’s exceptional playmaking skills and reading of the game make him an unparalleled leader on the court. He always seems to be there, passing the ball, helping his teammates to score, and often firing in a rocket of his own. There is no doubt Sweden would not have reached their sixth EHF EURO final without Gottfridsson.