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Date: 11/30/2012

An IHF expert jury has named the nominees – and now it is your turn to vote for the female and male World Handball Players of a thrilling year 2012! Famous coaches like Valero Rivera, Ulrik Wilbek or the Olympic champions’ coaches Claude Onesta (France) and Thorir Hergeirsson have made their proposals – and finally five male and female nominees each are on the list. From 30 November to 23 December 2012 fans and media can vote online here in different categories for their favourites.


Both current World Handball Players of the Year 2011 – Heidi Löke (Norway) and Mikkel Hansen (Denmark) had been re-nominated, additionally former world handball players and some new faces are among the ten nominees.

The awarding ceremony, organized by the IHF and their partner Grundfos, will take place on the final day of the Men’s World Championship 2013 in Spain, the winners will be announced right before the start of the pinnacle competition of the next year.  The World Handball Players 2012 do not only receive a memorable trophy, but also a cheque worth 10.000 Euros, presented by IHF partner Grundfos.


These are the nominees for the World Handball Player 2012:


Bojana Popovic (Montenegro)
The final season of her long career was the most successful by far: Bojana Popovic (33) first added a sixth title in the EHF Champions League on her long tally, then led Montenegro to the Olympic Games for the first time and in London the team made their dream come true by winning the silver medal – the first ever Olympic medal for her country. Popovic had returned to the Montenegrin powerhouse Buducnost Podgorica in 2010 after winning the EHF Champions League five times with the Danish sides Slagelse (3 times) and Viborg (2). Born in Nis (Serbia), she had played for several Serbian clubs, before transferring to Denmark, where she had been awarded “best player” several times. But still her mission to win the Champions League on home ground had to be accomplished. And after Buducnost had been seven times semi-finalist of this competition, but never reached the final, they made it all the way in May. By beating Hungarian side Györ in two thrilling finals, Popovic raised the trophy in her last club match ever. But still some objectives were ahead: One week after winning the Champions League left back Popovic was the key for Montenegro to win the Olympic qualification tournament in France – for the first time ever a Montenegrin handball team competed under the five Olympic rings. And after beating France in another thriller in the quarter-finals and Spain in the Olympic semi the first ever Montenegrin Olympic medal was confirmed. Despite losing the final against Norway, whole Montenegro celebrated their heroes including Popovic, the second best Olympic scorer. And the final in London had been the last match of living legend Popovic, who is now sports director of her club Buducnost Podgorica.

Alexandra do Nascimento (Brazil)
Though it was the saddest moment in her life, Alexandra do Nascimento (31) can be proud of everything: The top scorer of the 2011 World Championship in Brazil led her team to the group victory in the preliminary round of the Olympic Games in London against tough opponents like four times World champion Russia. Brazil were the best team in the first stage of the tournament, but then were hit hard in the quarter-finals: Though do Nascimento played the match of her life in the first 40 minutes and the South Americans were away by 15:9, a whole nations shed tears in the end. Defending champions Norway rose like Phoenix and turned the match around to reach the semi-finals. Right wing do Nascimento, who has been playing for Austrian Hypo Niederösterreich for ten seasons, showed a brilliant performance in London like she did at the home World Championship 2011, when Brazil took their best ever intercontinental results by finishing fifth. Four times Pan American champion do Nascimento is famous for her counter attack goals and her cold-as-ice shots from the penalty spot.

Heidi Löke (Norway)
The defending female World Handball Player of the year has completed her golden cabinet in 2012: After becoming European champion twice in 2008 and 2010 and World champion in 2011, Heidi Löke crowned herself with the Olympic gold medal in London. And again like in all previous major tournaments Löke (29) was awarded as a member of the All-Star team in London. The line player is a symbol for fighting spirit in attack and defence. She started her career in different Norwegian clubs, before transferring to Danish side Aalborg. In 2008 she returned to the Norwegian record champion Larvik, leading them to three consecutive domestic championships and to – also Löke’s biggest success on club level –the EHF Champions League title in 2011. In summer 2011 she transferred to Hungarian powerhouse Audi ETO Györ and again reached the final of the Champions League – but lost against Podgorica (Montenegro). In London Löke and Norway started weaker than expected, but after ranking only fourth in the preliminary round,  and being behind by six goals in the quarter-finals against Brazil, Löke was the key that changed everything. Her goals paved the way to beat Brazil and later on Korea in the semi, and in the final against Montenegro she stood like a rock in defence.

Katarina Bulatovic (Montenegro)
All the major successes of Montenegro on club and national team level in 2012 are not only connected to Bojana Popovic, but also to Katarina Bulatovic. The Serbian born right back (29) was the top scorer in the decisive second leg of the Champions League final of her former club Buducnost Podgorica against Györ – but this was nothing compared to her performances at the Olympics. In London she was member of the All-Star team, top scorer of the tournament with 53 goals, and the clear leader of Montenegro from the knock-out stage on. In the most thrilling match of the whole women’s tournament she sealed the quarter-final deal against France by scoring the decisive 23:22 by penalty at the final buzzer, in the final against Norway she added additional ten goals to her tally. Bulatovic is a typical Balkan shooter with highest scoring abilities. After winning the Champions League with Podgorica the left handed transferred to Romanian top team Oltchim Valcea, now playing at the side of the two former World Handball Players of the Year, Allison Pineau and Cristina Neagu.

Andrea Penezic (Croatia)
The left back (27) is the pillar in the Croatian national team. Her goals were decisive to finish the 2011 World Championship on the seventh position – the best ever result for the Croats, and Penecic was part of the All-Star team in Brazil. In May 2012 she led her team to the second rank at the Olympic qualification tournament in Spain, securing the first ever participation of Croatian handball women at Olympic Games. And in London the tremendous significance of her top shooter became visible even more. Penezic first was the key to the first ever victory of Croatia against Russia, which confirmed the second rank in their preliminary round group behind Brazil. And then Penezic was the head of her team in the quarter-finals against Spain – and when she had to leave the court due to an ankle injury the Croats lost their rhythm and missed the semi-finals. On club level Penezic had started her career at Lokomotiva in her home city Zagreb. From 2008 until 2010 she played for the Croatian record champions Podravka Koprivnica before transferring to Krim Mercator Ljubljana. Penezic is a highly efficient shooter with a perfect eye for her team mates.


Kim Andersson (Sweden)
2012 was like a roller coaster ride for Kim Andersson, who is supposed to be currently the best left handed player worldwide. On club level he won all possible trophies with his former side THW Kiel – he became unbeaten German champion and Cup winner before confirming his master piece by a superb performance in the EHF Champions League final, when his seven goals against Atletico Madrid paved the way to his third trophy in the “king’s class”. After an outstanding season the Swedish right back (30) was awarded best player in the German Bundesliga. Right after winning the Champions League he announced his transfer to Danish club AG København after seven highly successful years at Kiel – but never played a single match for his new club, as AGK got bankrupt in summer. So Andersson had to find another team – and found it in Denmark at KIF Kolding. The roller coaster ride with the national team was even more extreme: After ranking fourth at the World Championship 2011 on home ground, where he missed the semi-finals and the bronze final due to a broken finger, Sweden qualified for the Olympic Games after a 12 year absence. Right before the Olympics, Andersson missed the first leg of the qualification play-offs for the 2013 World Championship – and Sweden were eliminated surprisingly by Montenegro. But Andersson and his team mates rose again in London: Led by their outstanding left handed shooter (who finally was awarded member of the Olympic All-Star team), they reached the final after beating European champions Denmark and Hungary in the knock-out stages – and against France Andersson was highly close to win Olympic gold, but failed against the defending champions. Andersson had started his career at Swedish side Sävehof before he went to Kiel. Besides three Champions League titles, he became IHF Super Globe winner in 2011 and six times German champion.

Mikkel Hansen (Denmark)
The 2011 World Handball Player of the Year started perfectly in 2012: His nine decisive and brilliantly scored goals in the final of the European Championship in Serbia were the key to Denmark’s second continental title after 2008. And Hansen’s hunger had not been stilled: “MC Hammer” first led his former club AG København to the Final4 tournament of the Champions League after his “hammer goals” eliminated defending champions FC Barcelona (Hansen’s former club) in the quarter-finals. In the semi the Danes failed highly close against Atletico Madrid and finally ranked third – but Hansen was a winner, receiving the “golden ball” as the Champions League top scorer. Additionally Hansen, who again was member of the EHF EURO All-Star team in Serbia like one year before at the World Championship 2011 in Sweden, where Denmark ended up with a silver medal, became Danish champions with AGK. So his star was supposed to shine even clearer at the Olympic Games, where Denmark – thanks to Hansen – arrived as one of the main contenders for gold. But the fate of his club – AGK got bankrupt during the Olympic Games – hit Hansen hard. So the Danes missed the semi-finals after getting defeated by Sweden. And right after the Olympics Hansen had to search for a new club – which he found in France at Paris Handball, the current leader of the French league.

Filip Jicha (Czech Republic)
His Czech national team unfortunately missed the Olympic Games in London and the 2013 World Championship in Spain, but Filip Jicha again had a personally highly successful year 2012. The 2010 World Handball Player of the Year showed his great abilities on club level, crowning a perfect season for THW Kiel by becoming German champions with an unbreakable record of 34 victories in 34 matches, German Cup winner and later-on winner of the EHF Champions League. For THW it was the third trophy, for Jicha the second one after 2010. And he was highly responsible for the title, not only because of his eleven goals in the Champions League semi-finals against Füchse Berlin. Jicha had been Most Valuable Player and top scorer of the European Championship 2010, five straight times Czech handball player of the year and even German handball player of the year twice. In 2007 he arrived from TBV Lemgo at THW Kiel, where he just extended his contract until 2016. Scoring 94 goals he was THW top scorer in the previous Champions League season. 

Daniel Narcisse (France)
Born on the island La Reunion, Daniel Narcisse (33) is a long-term member of the French “golden generation”. In 2001 he became world champion for the first time, a title the left back again took in 2009. Due to a ruptured crucial ligament Narcisse had to miss the World championship 2011, when his team defended their title. But “Air France” (his nickname, as he jumps like no other back court player) returned even better after this injury break. The goals of the 2006 and 2010 European Champion paved the way to defend the Olympic gold medal in London – similar to 2008 Narcisse and his team mates were on top of the podium. On club level Narcisse has been part of the highly successful squad of THW Kiel since 2009, after playing for French side Chambery Savoie and German club VfL Gummersbach. In 2012 Narcisse won all possible titles except the European Championship: He became Olympic gold medallist, Champions League winner  for the second time, German champion and Cup winner. In 2011 he additionally was IHF Super Globe winner with THW.

Julen Aguinagalde (Spain)
Julen Aguinagalde (30) was member of the Olympic All-Star team in London as the best line player though his Spanish team highly unluckily missed the semi-finals after a last-second quarter-final defeat against later-on gold medallist France. The powerful pivot had won the bronze medal at the 2011 World Championship in Sweden and was fourth ranked at the European Championship 2012 in Serbia, before playing his first ever Olympic tournament. Aguinagalde had started his career at Bidasoa Irun and Ademar Leon, before transferring to Ciudad Real in 2009, becoming Spanish champions and two times Champions League finalist in 2011 and 2012. In 2010 and 2012 he was winner of the IHF Super Globe in Qatar with Atletico Madrid, the successor of Ciudad Real.