Martin Heuberger, last luckless as handball national coach, returns to his old post as U21 coach.
Anyone who sets out for Spain must expect to be surrounded by sweating, steaming, screaming people. In the sun, the beach and the sea, that can perhaps endure, but in tight, stuffy sports arenas? There are not many as in their element as Martin Heuberger. "I prefer to stand in the hall," says the 55-year-old.
He can do this extensively in the next few days, as he looks after the juniors of the German Handball Federation (DHB) at the U21 World Championships in Vigo and Pontevedra, in northwestern Spain. The DHB selection starts against Argentina this afternoon (14:00), the other opponents in the preliminary group D are Denmark (Wednesday, 6:00 pm), Chile (Friday, 2:00 pm), Norway (Saturday, 8:00 pm) and Iceland (Monday , 2pm / all games on Eurosport). The top four will reach the round of 16, the final will take place on the 28th of July.
Martin Heuberger makes a remarkable comeback in this tournament, in two ways: He has already coached the DHB talents, between 2002 and 2011, as the first full-time junior coach, the Association made; at World and European Championships Heuberger reached a total of six times the final and won four titles. After the second World Cup triumph over Denmark's juniors, he was promoted to national team coach in 2011 – with less success: After missing out on qualifying for the 2015 World Cup, the DHB let his contract expire in the summer of 2014.
It is not self-evident that a former boss returns to his former employer and classifies himself lower in the hierarchy without complaint. For most, the ego gets in the way, but for Heuberger it did not. "I was glad that the DHB thought of me," he assures. When the request came in the fall, whether he would like to take over the offspring again, he did not hesitate long anyway. "What could be better than turning the hobby into a profession?" He asks. and more than once you get to hear from him: "Handball is my life."
Martin Heuberger had nevertheless refrained from this life. After graduating as national coach, the graduate administrator returned to his previous job in the Landratsamt Offenburg. "It took me some time to process that," he says. "I was not in the gym for two years." Then he started to coach the A-youth of his home club TuS Schutterwald: "That rekindled the fire." He hoisted the Schutterwälder in the youth Bundesliga, at the beginning of the year brought him back to the DHB. This has confirmed Heuberger in his record as a men's coach: "It can not have been all bad."
He did not want to be sports director: "Working with the team is more of a thing of mine," he says
It was not, he left his successor Dagur Sigurdsson a selection, with which only a year and a half later became European champion. But when Heuberger took over in 2011, it was above all an ungrateful situation to replace the legendary Heiner Brand. He had been a world champion as a player and as a coach, but after a total of 14 years in office, he had not made the necessary changes. Heuberger should do that, "I thought I could," he says, "I knew the players".
Heuberger had simply underestimated that he was under more observation with the men than before with the juniors, and that he was also always measured by Brands successes. "I just did not have the lobby like one with 100 matches," said the 26-time international. He was also a bit hapless, in the World Cup qualifier for 2015, for example, went back and forth against the eventual World Cup third Poland only lost one goal difference.
But technically, there was little to suspend, probably also why the DHB tip then offered him to continue working in another capacity, as sports director, for example. "But that was not concrete enough for me," says Heuberger, also: "Working with the team is more of a job." Now he is allowed to do his thing again and work with a team. When he returned to the training hall, he said: "There's been a lot going on in the Bundesliga, the clubs are doing good youth work, and when I see them today, they're all better athletic."
Much is on the right path, what he once pushed. At that time the debutants in the national team, for example, were already in their mid-twenties, only Heuberger began again to involve the younger generation earlier. That he has now at the U21 World Cup in his captain Sebastian Heymann (Göppingen) and in goalkeeper Till Klimpke (Wetzlar) has two players here, who recently rallied in the men's squad of Christian Prokop, he basically has to thank himself. It is the result of his own previous work.
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