A tough handball dog goes delicate: the remarkable transformation of a national coach

The coach of the German handball staff made a identify for himself as a man who would not spare himself, his gamers, and, of course, his opponent. But after a stroke of destiny, the tough dog from Iceland discovered his delicate facet at the age of 63.

As a participant and later as a coach, Alfred Gislason exemplified the kind typically referred to in handball circles as a “tough dog”. A man who doesn’t spare himself or his opponent, and in addition guidelines his gamers with an iron fist. Former national participant Stefan Kretzschmar used his “Hölleluja!” In his ebook, he tells how the left winger and the profitable coach suffered a disc herniation after they have been collectively in Magdeburg at the starting of the millennium and introduced house the championship trophy. Borde has labored exhausting for the Champions League trophy, which has put him by hell. A discovering that Gislason rapidly refuted. Despite the ache, he really useful Kretzschmar and even changed him.

Icelanders do not tolerate such cruelty nowadays. At the age of 63, the tough dog has revealed his delicate facet, the look of the man who led the German national staff for 3 years as the national coach at the World Cups in Poland and Sweden. Faces France in the quarter-finals in Gdańsk (20.30 on ZDF and dwell on ntv.de), implausible in each method.

“Working intently with younger individuals retains you in your toes”

His tenure as national coach acquired off to a rocky begin from a sporting standpoint, with Gislason working in virtually disaster mode since taking on in 2020 and the pandemic making a steady team-building inconceivable for a very long time. In non-public, the Icelander has skilled extreme blows of destiny. In March, after he was cleared to compete in the Olympics, he printed a letter through which he threatened to “go” to a right-wing farce if Gislason didn’t vacate his place as German national coach. “After virtually 30 years in Germany, I used to be threatened for the first time on this nice nation,” Gislason wrote, including that the cooperation in sports activities was very robust.

In May 2021, his spouse Kara-Gudrun died of most cancers. They have identified one another since he was 12 years outdated and have been married for 40 years. Her first response to the docs’ prognosis that the chemotherapy was not working: “I’m going to name Axel Kromer, stop work – then we’ll go to Iceland and spend the time Kara spent collectively in Iceland. “, he informed Sport Bild, taking a look at the unhappy prognosis. But his spouse stopped him. “The gamers knew Kara was sick. They heard it was getting worse over time.” When he died, Gislason stated on RTL: “It was shocking how rapidly it handed.”

Only a few months later, he went to the Olympic Games in Tokyo and appeared in sixth place with the staff. “Handball was essential to me throughout this time. Especially while you work intently with younger individuals, it retains you in your toes and retains you alive,” he informed the sports activities data service. “It makes life lovely when you may assist younger individuals progress in sport and get on the path in life. Everything turned out in a different way than I assumed, however life goes on.”

He has gone by tough occasions, prolonged his contract with DHB and located new love. Author and director Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir solely requested for an interview with him, revealing that “his father was my assistant coach on my first worldwide journey with the senior staff,” he informed Welt earlier this week. They met for dinner, “that is the way it began”.

The nation remains to be in energy

At the World Cup in Poland, media professionals at the moment are experiencing a fully renewed Gislason. He is not curt and abrupt, however as a substitute smiles and solutions questions eloquently and authoritatively. That did not change after the first chapter towards Norway, however the defeat was annoying as a result of it was avoidable. He “hopes to see one another once more on this match,” Gislason stated, smiling at fellow Norwegian Jonas Will. There can solely be a assembly in the closing.

The national coach known as the subsequent match towards the title favorites from France “the most tough sport. “We need to have a nice day to outlive.” But retirement alone doesn’t throw a veteran off steadiness. His gamers and people near him are unanimous in reporting how relaxed Gislason is in his mission and the way a lot it impacts everybody concerned. Erik Woodtke, who works intently with the boss on the bench as an assistant coach, feels the national coach is “calm and calm”. At least when there isn’t any sport.

For 60 minutes, Gislason can proceed to mutate in the Icelandic volcano, which can erupt if issues go improper. “He’s energized, however that is for positive,” Woodtke says. The relaxation of the time, his ease “would not play.” He is blissful to see the gamers succeed.” The sovereignty of outdated age is “manifested by nice self-confidence. And this, in flip, impacts the staff.” Goalkeeper Andreas Wolff added, “Alfred can provide us some composure together with his nice expertise.”

“Play What You Want”

That mutual give and take, in line with Woodtke, is “the key to the staff’s efficiency to this point.” During the second-round sport towards Argentina, when the German choice tore their opponents aside with each trick in the ebook, the coach’s good announcement at halftime was: “Play what you need,” Gislason stated. gamers. It is an anarchist strategy that was beforehand unthinkable on this type. One, however not all, ought to hear, Gislason informed Welt: “But I forgot there was a microphone. It would not occur to me fairly often.” In that second, with this comfy management behind him, it was “the largest present of religion,” stories Woodtke. True to the motto, “You guys are in the circulation and also you play nicely, you are going to succeed anyway.”

Backcourt participant Paul Drucks additionally noticed that “Alfred is having his first main match right here as a national coach, which is absolutely nearly handball.” There have been no video games, no chaotic days in entrance of empty locations like final yr’s European Championship in Bratislava, a complete of 18 corona circumstances in the staff overthrew all plans – solely protection, assault, counterattack and second wave. “It’s good for all of us,” says Fuchsen, a Berlin professional and supervisor, who factors to the ease of being “in each apply.” In the fall of a lengthy and extremely profitable teaching profession, Gislason famous that “he prefers to show issues off and revel in himself.”

“A very, very blissful national coach”

The coach’s powerhouse is simply exterior Magdeburg: Wendgräben, house to only 32 individuals. Here, greater than 20 years in the past, Gislason and his spouse Kara-Gudrun purchased a derelict farm with bushes rising on the roof. Today, the English country-style residence is a actual gem, in addition to a biotope from which Gislason retreats to recharge his battery: “Here, I’ve the peace of Iceland,” he informed Welt am Sonntag. “The environment of the farm are lovely, the whole lot is gorgeous. I can say I need.”

At the World Cup, issues are going virtually in line with plan to date. Losing to Norway damage Gislson as he would have most well-liked to play towards Spain in the quarter-finals. Whether this sport can be very easy or not is unknown. The DHB staff now has to face Olympic champion and file world champion France. Whether his new discovered sobriety will final stays to be seen. Until he stated, “I’m a national coach, I’m very blissful.”


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