Home European Championship: The future of German handball is bright

Home European Championship: The future of German handball is bright

How good that the national handball coach can forgive. Otherwise, Justus Fischer’s national team career would have been over before it had even begun. Fischer, at 20 the youngest German player at the current home European Championship, was provided with video material with game scenes and other tactical instructions from Alfred Gislason before a course in November. But instead of pressing “Download” on the database, which is accessible to all selection professionals, the cyclist hit the “Delete” key.

The mishap: Not only was all of Fischer’s data deleted, but also of all of his colleagues. “I didn’t really have it figured out,” Fischer explained at the time. “I just saw on my app that I had already used 60 percent of two gigabytes because I was downloading things. Then I wanted to delete the data. But it was just deleted from everyone.”

That carelessness was still a topic of ridicule for the other players during Fischer’s debut, but the tide has now turned. Because all the data could be restored quickly – but above all because the man from TSG Hannover-Burgdorf quickly indicated that after his memorable start he would be able to write headlines, especially in terms of sport.

Circle player Justus Fischer, 20, from TSG Hannover-Burgdorf (l.)

Source: AP/Martin Meissner

He has played in all four games of the continental showdown. The 113 kilogram colossus was also on the table on Thursday evening when Germany achieved their first main round victory with a 26:24 over Iceland and had the chance to take part in the semi-finals. Fischer (five European Championship goals) is one of four players who won the U21 World Cup last year, made the difficult transition to the senior national team and now symbolizes the fact that, thanks to the development of these exceptional talents, Germany is in the position proclaimed by the national association “Decade of Handball” can certainly look to the future with hope.

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Fischer’s club colleague from the capital of Lower Saxony also plays a major role in this: Renars Uscins. The former captain of the U21 team is already immensely important as a right back player and shares playing time at the European Championships with Kai Häfner, who at 34 is the oldie in the team and became a father for the second time a week ago.

Backcourt player Renars Uscins, 21, from TSG Hannover-Burgdorf

Source: AP/Martin Meissner

Uscins, 21, is not the classic shooter from the backcourt, but is definitely valuable as a playful element. The Hanoverian has scored two goals so far at the European Championships, and sometimes he can hardly believe his luck. “It is a huge privilege that I can play two major tournaments in my own country within six months,” said Uscins during the preliminary round in Berlin. “I soak it all up, try to enjoy it and work on my development a bit.”

A maximum of willingness to learn

With such an exemplary attitude, the son of former Latvian international Armands Uscins should go far. In any case, the new generation in the national team is characterized by a high level of willingness to improve and the desire to learn. While in the football industry there is quickly talk of rich young millionaires who no longer want to make a real mess, national coach Gislason doesn’t have to motivate his talents extra. Everyone sees just participating in the European Championship in their own country as an honor.

Final victory over Hungary: Captain Renars Uscins presents the World Cup trophy to his teammates

Quelle: picture alliance / Marco Wolf

This also applies to the third youngster in the German squad. David Späth, 21, has even made the biggest leap out of the quartet since the summer of 2023. First, he prevailed at the Rhein-Neckar Löwen against Joel Birlehm, who took part in the World Cup last year. Then, when nominating the second keeper behind Andreas Wolff, he left behind such an established player as Silvio Heinevetter (39, TVB Stuttgart). And at the home tournament he is now proving that Gislason was spot on with his choice.

Goalkeeper David Späth, 21, from the Rhein-Neckar Löwen

Source: dpa/Sören Stache

Whenever Späth comes into a game, he is able to convince. And with his emotional way of celebrating his own parades with euphoria, he is an important factor in the selection as a motivator and mood cannon. “In David Späth,” handball idol Stefan Kretzschmar recently told “Kicker,” “I see the Talent for the next ten, 15 years.”

Lichtlein plays “a second in the future”

Kretzschmar, the sports director at Füchse Berlin, is also responsible for the club that perhaps has the player with the greatest development potential under contract from the quartet: Nils Lichtlein. The nephew of Carsten Lichtlein, world champion in 2007 and record player in the Bundesliga with 712 appearances, has a gift that is rare in sports: he can anticipate a game so well that his uncle and other experts say he is playing a second in the future. This ability made Lichtlein the most valuable player (MVP) of the U21 World Cup in Germany in the summer of 2023.

Game designer Nils Lichtlein, 21, from Füchse Berlin

Source: dpa/Tom Weller

At times, the 21-year-old still has to come to terms with the fact that he cannot transfer that game 1:1 to the men’s level. The defensive lines there are much tougher than in the juniors, which is why Lichtlein sometimes has to learn the hard way. After all, he scored his first goal in his only European Championship game so far, the 34:25 over North Macedonia during the preliminary round in his adopted home of Berlin.

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It is still uncertain whether the German selection will see the second light in the next game against Austria on Saturday (8.30 p.m., ARD and Dyn). But with his potential as a game designer, the left-hander is definitely a beacon of hope for the next major event in Germany: the 2027 World Cup. Experts like former captain Uwe Gensheimer even assume that Germany will then be a gold candidate again – thanks in part to the quartet , which is already celebrating a wealth of experience at the highest level.

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