Unforgettable January for award winners Pintea and Hansen
While the VELUX EHF Champions League and other men’s European club competitions were put on hold by the World Championship in January, the Women’s EHF Champions League came back with a bang, while the Women’s EHF Cup group phase began.
A panel of EHF journalists voted for their EHF Player of the January and the votes cast left no doubt.
The women’s award went to Romanian line player Crina Pintea, who made her debut for Györ in Europe’s top flight, while PSG’s Mikkel Hansen dominated the men’s competition after his exploits with Denmark.
For Hansen, one of the stalwarts of men’s handball over the past decade, this is his first EHF Player of the Month award, after finishing second in the vote twice.
“It shows that hard work pays off”
As Crina Pintea put it, she is living the dream. The 28-year old Györ player is in the form of her life, establishing herself as one of the best line players in women’s handball.
Pintea started the season for Paris 92, but an offer from Györ in the winter was too hard to pass up.
Some players might find it hard to adapt to a totally different team, with huge ambitions and a star-studded line-up, but Pintea took the challenge upon herself and impressed from the get-go.
A dual threat, with a great presence in defence and unstoppable in attack, Pintea led the way against CSM Bucuresti, scoring nine times from nine shots, to help Györ deliver a comfortable 36:27 win in their only European game in January.
“It is an award I could not even dream about a few years ago. It really shows that hard work pays off and if you believe in yourself, everything you hope for can be accomplished,” said an emotional Pintea.
The Romanian star has hit the peak of her career, after being named into the EHF EURO 2018 All-Star team last December as the best line player of the competition.
“The feelings are quite overwhelming, because everything happens so fast. However, I am still focused on the task at hand, which means playing better and better for Györ right now,” added the 28-year old.
Individual awards are superb, yet Pintea is also eyeing the big prize.
“I think it is too early to speak about the Women’s EHF Champions League trophy, but everybody here wants to win it again. It would be amazing and a fitting way to end a dream season,” concluded the Romanian star.
Pintea is the second Romanian player to have won the EHF Player of the Month award after Cristina Neagu.
An unforgettable January
”I want to be the best edition of myself in all aspects,” said Mikkel Hansen before the start of the World Championship in Germany and Denmark this January.
And he certainly was in a January he and many others will not soon forget.
Having become a father for the first time in his life five days before the start of the World Championship, he was the star among stars, as Denmark became champions with 10 wins out of 10.
14 goals in the group finale against Norway and 12 in the semi-final against France contributed to Hansen not only becoming the top scorer in the competition, but also awarded MVP of the tournament.
These efforts have made the 31-year-old left back from Paris Saint-Germain Handball Player of the Month in Europe with overwhelming majority among the EHF experts.
“I am happy with this award, of course.
“I have experienced many great things in 2019 so far, but it is always nice when someone acknowledges what you are doing.
“I do not think many people can ever get tired of that,” says Mikkel Hansen about the award.
“After all the celebrating, it has been good to come back to daily life, however, and to all the challenges we are facing with PSG, which are exciting too,” adds Hansen.
The 31-year old left back won by a comfortable margin, leading the way ahead of his club teammate Sander Sagosen, who finished second after inspiring Norway to the silver medal at the championship.
EHF Player of the Month – January 2019
1. Mikkel Hansen (DEN) – Paris Saint-Germain
2. Sander Sagosen (NOR) – Paris Saint-Germain
3. Nicklas Landin (DEN) – THW Kiel
4. Kentin Mahe (FRA) – Telekom Veszprem HC
5. Rasmus Lauge (DEN) – SG Flensburg Handewitt
1.Crina Pintea (ROU) – Györi Audi ETO KC
2. Ana Gros (SLO) – Brest Bretagne Handball
3. Andrea Kobetic (CRO) - Siófok KC
4. Nerea Pena (ESP) – FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria
5. Milena Raicevic (MNE) – BuducnostAuthor: Adrian Costeiu, Peter Bruun / cor