One awardee at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2017 took his trophy with his head held low, the other jumped for joy.
While Uwe Gensheimer took his top scorer award with a truly disappointed face after losing the final with PSG against Vardar 24:23, Arpad Sterbik smiled all over his face after receiving the award for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.
Sterbik, who will end his great career with now four Champions League titles and one World Championship trophy (2013 with Spain) after the 2017/18 season, did not expect to receive the MVP award: “I was part of nine Champions League finals or FINAL4 events, I won the trophy four times, but this MVP award is the crowning jewel on my career - it's simply incredible.”
Sterbik is the first-ever goalkeeper to get the MVP trophy after Aron Palmarsson (2014, 2016) and Nikola Karabatic (2015). Sterbik (37) was awarded World Handball Player of the Year in 2005 as the second-ever goalkeeper after Henning Fritz (Germany) the year before. After starting his international club career at Veszprem, he made it to Ciudad Real, where he won his first three Champions League trophies. In 2012, he joined FC Barcelona and two years later he transferred to Vardar.
Sterbik was full of emotions when he first received his individual award and then the Champions League trophy. “We functioned as a team - this was the key. All our younger players, who never won a trophy like this before, did a great job. After we had beaten Barcelona I saw in all of our eyes that we are not here to see Cologne, but to win the title,” Sterbik added.
The Vardar goalkeeper conceded two goals from the new VELUX EHF Champions League top scorer Uwe Gensheimer in the final. In total, the 30-year-old German struck 115 times this season, three less than in the 2010/11 season, when he was top scorer for the first time, wearing the jersey of Rhein-Neckar Löwen, before he moved to PSG just before the 2016/17 season.
The individual award could not change his emotions though after losing the final. “I am very disappointed, of course. These kind of games are the ones you prepare for when you are a player, so it hurts to lose them. In the second half, we lost too many balls. I think Vardar deserves the win“, he said.
He is the second PSG Champions League top scorer in a row after Mikkel Hansen, who scored 141 goals in the previous season.Author: Björn Pazen
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