28/01/2018

Top scorer Zdrahala follows in Filip and Jicha’s footsteps

FEATURE: Ondrej Zdrahala holds a 15-goal lead over Mikkel Hansen in the top goal scorer ranking of the EHF EURO 2018, while playing his best ever handball at 34 years of age

A 34-year old player is closer to consider retirement than to have a breakthrough performance in an important event like the EHF EURO 2018. But Ondrej Zdrahala is the exception that proves the rule, with the Czech Republic playmaker close to earn the top goal scorer title at the EHF EURO 2018.

The Czech Republic have been the surprise package of the competition, but their grit and defence-first approach would have been for nothing, if their experienced playmaker would not have had the tournament of his life in Croatia.

Zdrahala scored 56 goals in his seven outings at the EHF EURO, with a 13-goal performance against Croatia in the 5/6 Place game capping off what has been an impressive show.

“I did not come here with a personal goal to become the top scorer. I, and actually all of us, travelled here to achieve a good result as I believed we had a team capable of it. The fact that I am leading the top goal scorer ranking is just an icing on the cake, but the main objective was to play some good handball here and perhaps to finish in the top six,” said Zdrahala, who plies his trade in the Swiss League, for TSV St.Otmar St Gallen Handball.

The Czech playmaker has a comfortable 15-goal lead over Mikkel Hansen, while Rasmus Lauge is 20 goals behind. However, the Danish side will play against France in the bronze medal game on Sunday.

If Hansen or Lauge do not overcome Zdrahala, then the red-hot centre back will be the third Czech player to win the top goal scorer ranking in the EHF EURO, after Jan Filip (1998), Zdrahala’s coach, and former superstar Filip Jicha, who scored 53 times in 2010, to also win the MVP trophy.

“I am very happy for the way how we presented ourselves here as one team. We were not here like a bunch of individuals but really like a very good team, which stick together and even the fans and all people around the tournament must have seen how we fight,” adds Zdrahala.

Interest will surely be high for the Czech player, who is currently playing down plans about the future.

“Everything is open in my future career and let’s see what happens. I am still dreaming about playing in some of the top European clubs,” concludes Zdrahala, who spent two years in the Bundesliga, playing for TV Großwallstadt, between 2007 and 2009.

written by Adrian Costeiu / br