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Mikkel Hansen

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“Hoping to have the upper hand in the end”

Interview with World Handball Player of the Year Mikkel Hansen before the World Championship in Spain


After his brilliant performances at the 2011 World Championship in Sweden, Mikkel Hansen was elected World Handball Player of the Year, and the young Dane is among the nominees for the 2012 award again. In 2012 he led Denmark to the European Championship title in Serbia and became the top scorer of the EHF Champions League.

But this year was more like a rollercoaster for Hansen:  Though they had come to London as the big favourites for gold, the Danes missed the semi-finals. And during the Olympic Games Hansen’s club AG Kobenhavn got bankrupted. So Hansen had to find a new club. Hansen had played at FC Barcelona before returning to Denmark and now ‘MC Hammer’ transferred to France, a new country and third stage of his career, to sign with Paris Handball.

Hansen is supposed to be one of the key players of the Danish team again at the World Championship in Spain, hoping to reach another final. Yet, he is also aware of the opponents.


Gold at the EHF EURO 2012, early exit at the Olympic quarter-finals – what is Denmark’s real potential at present?

Mikkel Hansen:  It is difficult to say. But in the light of the competition format as applied at the Olympics or at World Championships you can’t afford a bad day. We lost two matches at the European Championship but still became the champions, and we also lost two in London to leave at an early stage. So ranking first or ninth is not entirely due to our performance. It is also a matter of what the tournament format is, and whether or not you are lucky.


In 2011 Denmark was close to finish on top of the World Championship rostrums – what needs to happen so that your team will compete for medals again?

Mikkel Hansen: We will have to keep concentrated, as we had done in 2011 where we didn’t lose a single match and managed to draw during regular playing time. Yet, many good teams will compete in Spain, and we will have to show top performances to climb the rostrums.


Do you agree that your team is the big favourite of your preliminary round group?

Mikkel Hansen: Yes and no. At the European Championship we were extremely lucky to beat Macedonia, and we always have very tough matches with Iceland. Further it seems that Russia is back among the best in the world. So it will be a tough group. But we may have the upper hand in the end.


Denmark will host the EHF EURO in 2014 – how important is a perfect result for the promotion of your tournament on home soil?

Mikkel Hansen: Already now people in Denmark are looking forward to 2014 with high expectations. It is for sure that a medal in Spain would arouse handball enthusiasm in our country.


Knudsen and Mogensen will not be with the team in Spain. Is the hierarchy within the team changing?

Mikkel Hansen: I don’t think so. They are two very skilful players but as far as hierarchy is concerned we have always acted as a team and we will do so this time too.


What is your favourite role within the team, being the scorer or leading your team?

Mikkel Hansen: I like all tasks of the game. If there is an opportunity to score, I shoot and enjoy it. If I play an assist, I equally enjoy it.



How important is Mikkel Hansen on highest level for the Danish team?

Mikkel Hansen: I don’t know. You should ask somebody else that question.


You remember Denmark’s somewhat poor start at the European Championship in Serbia. What is Denmark’s idea to avoid something similar in Spain?

Mikkel Hansen: We have to play better than we did in Serbia. We didn’t intentionally perform badly but sometimes it simply happens that way.


Is it something special for you to participate in a major tournament as the current World Handball Player of the Year?

Mikkel Hansen: No. I always look forward to major tournaments.


How have handball and your life changed now that you are playing in France?

Mikkel Hansen: Life indeed changes, as you move to another country, and so does handball. The play is quite different from the play in the Danish league and so is the French way of life. I enjoy it very much.


What teams are your main contenders for the title in Spain?

Mikkel Hansen: I think France and Croatia of course. Yet, Spain is my biggest favourite due to its home advantage.