Henrik Toft Hansen will “put game face on” against former club
One Danish soldier has replaced the other in Paris. Henrik Møllgaard moved back to his home country last summer, and he was replaced by another Henrik, Toft Hansen.
He joined PSG after three seasons with SG Flensburg-Handewitt. And though he never qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with the German side, Toft Hansen still has fond memories of his Flensburg years.
“The best one is probably when we won the Bundesliga, which was my last game for Flensburg,” says Toft Hansen, whose brother René plays for Telekom Veszprém HC. “They had waited for that for 14 years and the whole city went nuts that day. I had been chasing this title for three years but some of my team mates, like Thomas Mogensen, had been for 10. It was amazing.”
Sweet memories play no role
But the sweet memories won’t play a role when Toft Hansen and PSG host Flensburg in a VELUX EHF Champions League Group B clash on Saturday at 17:30 hrs (live on ehfTV.com). And both teams will lock horns again in Germany on Wednesday at 18:45 hrs (live on ehfTV.com).
No matter what, to get the four points at stake here will be the most important thing for Toft Hansen.
“It’s going to be tough and fun. In the three years I played there, I almost spent more time with those guys than with my family,” he says. “I’m sure we will find some time for a coffee afterwards, but on the court, I will put my game face on. We will save the nice chat for later.”
Yet another level in handball
When Toft Hansen switched from Flensburg to Paris, he had two reasons to do so. Firstly, he wanted to step up to yet another level in handball.
“Paris is a top club when you look at the players we’ve got and the possibilities you’ve got outside the playing court,” he says. “We want to win every game, every title, but that’s not something I’m afraid of. The ambitions in Flensburg were the same.”
Also, he can spend a lot more time with his family. A daddy of two, Toft Hansen admits that the prospect of travelling to the other end of Germany by bus wasn’t that attractive anymore.
“It wasn’t a problem when I was single and 20. Now I have a family so things are little bit different. I wanted to spend more time with them,” he says. “Here I have the perfect combination: I can play at a club that’s one of the best in Europe and also have time to spend with my family.”
So, while Thomas Mogensen and Anders Eggert stayed for more than 10 years in Flensburg, Toft Hansen decided to move away.
“Emotionally, it was tough. I left a lot of friendships there, not only on the court but also in my everyday life,” he says. “For me, it was a big step, a big challenge, to come to France, further away from my parents and the rest of my family. It was tough, but I’m very happy I chose to do it. Paris is, as a club and a city, everything I expected it to be.”
While his French won’t go much further than the casual “Bonjour, ça va?” yet, he is learning the language and should be able to have a conversation in French pretty quickly.
"Things can always be better but we've got 12 points"
Also on the court, everything seems to be going as planned. In the VELUX EHF Champions League, Paris remain the only team to have taken the maximum of 12 points from six rounds.
“The group is tough and the games are hard to win. A lot were close, by one or two goals. Things can always be better but we’ve got 12 points and that’s the most important thing,” says Toft Hansen.
Last week against MOL-Pick Szeged was another big test, but Paris, despite being shaken, came out victorious, with a fantastic Sander Sagosen to make up for the absence of Nikola Karabatic, who is out for months following foot surgery.
“Of course, we’re going to miss him. We’re talking about one of the best players in the world here,” Toft Hansen says. “The other guys in the team have to take more responsibility, we already saw that in the games we played without him.”