Da he stood on the edge of the field, in socks, still in a yellow jersey, and talked about a first half of the season that was much better than expected – but ended with an unworthy final chord. “If someone had told me in the summer that we had 16 points at the end of the year, I would have bought it straight away,” said Johannes Bitter, the handball goalkeeper who has already experienced so much. “At the moment I’m disappointed because we have zero points tonight.”
The Handball Sport Verein Hamburg (HSVH) lost 26:27 on Monday evening against Bergische HC; Bitter’s ten saves could not prevent the defeat. But the fact that the newcomer from the Hanseatic city was the favorite in the game against the established Bundesliga member shows how successful the first half of the season was. “Overall, we can go into the second half of the season with a broad chest and be very proud of ourselves,” said Bitter. The relegation places are seven points away.
The yield is the best of a newcomer in five years, which is all the more remarkable as the HSVH largely trusts the players who have moved up from the upper to the Bundesliga in recent years. The new HSV has nothing to do with the former million euro product. Something is growing together at HSVH; There is agreement between the coach, the team and the club management, and the audience gives the club an interest and confidence in difficult times.
These are reasons why Johannes Bitter feels so comfortable here. “I am very satisfied with my performance,” he says. “I set out to make ten saves in each game. That was pretty good. And on top of that, there are a few more tasks for the team that I have. I’m the one who tries to address everything. “
“Its value is undisputedly high”
He fended off more than 33 percent of the throws in the first 18 games and is statistically one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga. Sometimes, like the last time the victory over Hanover ten days ago, you can watch the opposing thrower freeze in awe when Bitter, 205 centimeters long, builds up in front of him.
But it’s not just the purely sporting aspect that counts. With 39 years of experience and 170 international matches, the young team looks up to him. His teammates are rather calm – it helps when Bitter yells from behind, animates the audience, shouts commands and also gives the referees a few nice words. “Jogi is an important factor for us with his emotionality,” says coach Torsten Jansen, “and I hope that he will stay that way for a long time to come. Its value is undoubtedly high for us. “
Bitter laughs when you ask him about the term of the contract. After nine years at the old HSV, he played for TVB Stuttgart between 2016 and 2021 before signing in Hamburg in the summer of 2026. He says: “My plan is to keep playing for a long time.” So until my mid-40s? “I don’t have to make a decision. The contract says it’s like this, ”he replies with a grin. Bitter is someone around which the team and fans can gather. A figure who creates identity. It’s not difficult for him. He brought his girlfriend Anna Loerper, the former national player, with him from Stuttgart. His three sons are in Hamburg and his company is based in the bacon belt. Everything fits.
The only unusual thing is that there will actually be a break from playing until the beginning of February. Since returning to the national team in 2019, January has always been stressful for Bitter (although he enjoyed participating) – the big tournaments were coming up. This time he has signaled national coach Alfred Gislason to only be there in an emergency. Accordingly, he will follow the European Championships in Hungary and Slovakia on television. Bitter says: “I’m looking forward to great games and will be the biggest fan of the German team.”