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

The coach of the German handball crew made a title for himself as a man who does not spare himself, his gamers, and, of course, his opponent. But after a stroke of destiny, the tough dog from Iceland discovered his smooth 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 likewise guidelines his gamers with an iron fist. Former national participant Stefan Kretzschmar used his “Hölleluja!” In his e book, 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 residence the championship trophy. Borde has labored arduous for the Champions League trophy, which has put him by hell. A discovering that Gislason shortly refuted. Despite the ache, he advisable Kretzschmar and even changed him.

Icelanders do not tolerate such cruelty nowadays. At the age of 63, the tough dog has revealed his smooth facet, the look of the man who led the German national crew 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 reside on ntv.de), unbelievable in each approach.

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

His tenure as national coach bought off to a rocky begin from a sporting standpoint, with Gislason working in virtually disaster mode since taking up in 2020 and the pandemic making a steady team-building not possible 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 revealed a letter wherein 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 sturdy.

In May 2021, his spouse Kara-Gudrun died of most cancers. They have identified one another since he was 12 years previous 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, give up work – then we’ll go to Iceland and spend the time Kara spent collectively in Iceland. “, he advised 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 shortly it handed.”

Only a few months later, he went to the Olympic Games in Tokyo and appeared in sixth place with the crew. “Handball was crucial to me throughout this time. Especially while you work intently with younger individuals, it retains you in your toes and retains you alive,” he advised the sports activities info service. “It makes life stunning 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 crew,” he advised Welt earlier this week. They met for dinner, “that is the way it began”.

The nation continues to be in energy

At the World Cup in Poland, media professionals are actually 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 in opposition to 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 remaining.

The national coach known as the subsequent match in opposition to the title favorites from France “the most tough sport. “We must have a nice day to outlive.” But retirement alone doesn’t throw a veteran off stability. 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 is no such thing as a sport.

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

“Play What You Want”

That mutual give and take, based on Woodtke, is “the key to the crew’s efficiency so far.” During the second-round sport in opposition to Argentina, when the German choice tore their opponents aside with each trick in the e book, the coach’s good announcement at halftime was: “Play what you need,” Gislason stated. gamers. It is an anarchist method that was beforehand unthinkable on this kind. One, however not all, ought to hear, Gislason advised Welt: “But I forgot there was a microphone. It does not occur to me fairly often.” In that second, with this snug management behind him, it was “the largest present of religion,” experiences Woodtke. True to the motto, “You guys are in the stream 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 whole of 18 corona instances in the crew 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 follow.” In the fall of a lengthy and extremely profitable teaching profession, Gislason famous that “he prefers to show issues off and luxuriate in himself.”

“A very, very pleased national coach”

The coach’s powerhouse is simply exterior Magdeburg: Wendgräben, residence 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 advised Welt am Sonntag. “The environment of the farm are stunning, all the things is gorgeous. I can say I would like.”

At the World Cup, issues are going virtually based on plan up to now. Losing to Norway damage Gislson as he would have most well-liked to play in opposition to Spain in the quarter-finals. Whether this sport can be very easy or not is unknown. The DHB crew now has to face Olympic champion and document 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 pleased.”

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