Simonet: “When handball is back, you will enjoy it twice as much”
Magician. Superstar. Out of the box. There is no player in the VELUX EHF Champions League which can fit better into those categories than Diego Simonet.
The Argentinian playmaker was named MVP of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 two seasons ago and was instrumental in handing Montpellier HB their second trophy in the European premium competition.
Fast forward two years and the French powerhouse is back between the top teams in the VELUX EHF Champions League, as they finished fourth in a crunch group phase, which featured opponents like THW Kiel, Telekom Veszprém or PGE VIVE Kielce.
Confined at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Simonet talks to ehfCL.com about life without handball and about his plans, while displaying his brimming vision off the court by creating his own board game.
ehfCL.com: How is life for you now? Is it difficult to adapt?
Diego Simonet: This is very difficult for all of us, regardless of who you are. It is a situation that nobody has ever experienced. I am very concerned about everybody who contacted the virus, but we got to live with it and hope for the best. In my case, I am very lucky to be with my fiancée and my little girl. I am following a diet plan and the exercises which my physical coach, Alan Albert, sends to us.
ehfCL.com: How are you coping on a day-by-day basis, how do you keep in shape?
Diego Simonet: My goal is to keep my form up, like I had done before everything grounded to a halt. In the past year, I was in my best shape. Now, I do a lot of work that includes special exercises for my legs and my shoulder, these are very important. And I want to give props to Alan Albert, our physical coach, who has given us a lot of work to do in our homes. This situation does not mean we can become complacent.
ehfCL.com: How do your trainings look now? Do you think the comeback will be difficult?
Diego Simonet: A lot of yoga, some stretching and some physical work to prevent any injuries to happen. The comeback will be difficult, there are some things that cannot be trained at home. Jumps, dribbles, some things that make me the player that I am are not easy to come up with if you do not practice on a daily basis.
ehfCL.com: Your teammate, Valentin Porte, posted an Instagram video where he races his dog. How are you coping with all the free time?
Diego Simonet: Myself, I am a big fan of board games. I spend a lot of time with my fiancée playing board games and, basically, having more of a social interaction, as we miss our friends. I am also creating my own board game, in two months’ time it will go into production.
ehfCL.com: Really, what is it about?
Diego Simonet: It is a family game, which can be played in various ways, from two to seven players at a time. You need to work in teams, as you have to reconstruct Argentina’s history. You have to talk a lot, you need to rely on your partners. This is not the end, I have other plans, as I am playing in France, I want to create a board game with a French Revolution theme. Both are going to be lovely!
ehfCL.com: In this spare time most of us have now, we tend to read, watch movies, TV series. Can you recommend something?
Diego Simonet: I tend to watch a movie or TV series before I go to sleep, this way I can relax and have a good nights’ sleep. If I were to recommend a movie, I would say “1917.” I am a huge fan of war movies and this impressed me a lot. A TV series that I enjoyed was “Self Made: Inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker.” Let me also say something about a board game, which everyone can try, “Chronicles of Crime.” It is brilliant!
ehfCL.com: Let’s get back to handball. How much do you miss it? Have you re-watched some games?
Diego Simonet: I have not missed it that much, to be honest, because I have a small crack on one rib, due to a hit in my last domestic league game, against Creteil. However, I did re-watch some of the last games we played, we did really well. I always like to go back to watch my games, because I really like correcting mistakes and see what went well and what did not.
ehfCL.com: How did your season go up until this point?
Diego Simonet: In the VELUX EHF Champions League we did very well, we were quite linear, it was very good for us and we are in the Last 16 phase of the competition, everything can happen from now, as we proved in 2018. However, in the French League we had our ups and downs, we lost a few games and missed some important chances to win points, like we did against Ivry or Istres. We need to correct that when handball resumes.
ehfCL.com: What do you miss most now?
Diego Simonet: The games, to be in shape, to win games. I think every handball player is missing this right now.
ehfCL.com: How do you rate your chances against Flensburg in the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League?
Diego Simonet: I think it is a fifty-fifty game. We are similar teams, I think we are two very good teams. It depends who will be on form when the competition resumes.
ehfCL.com: Can you send a message to the handball fans that are missing the action right now?
Diego Simonet: Sometimes, it is good to miss something. When it comes back, you will enjoy it twice as much! Stay home and respect the rules, it is for everybody’s benefit.Author: Adrian Costeiu / ew