01/28/2018

“We came here to win gold”

FEATURE: In what is his first major tournament, Spain’s current top scorer Ferran Sole can make history in the final against Sweden

Ferran Sole is Spain's top scorer at the EHF EURO 2018, with 14 out of 17 penalties so far. Photo: Sasa Pahic Szabo

“Never, ever would I have believed it. This is a dream coming true,” When you ask Ferran Sole about his current emotions, he is on cloud nine.

In November 2016, the 25-year-old right wing played his first match for Spain. On Sunday, he can make history. “We have beaten France in the EHF EURO Semi-finals. Now we want to go all the way,” says Sole. “It was unexpected that we make it to the final, as it is for Sweden.”

The left-handed wing is Spain’s expert for penalty shots, netting 14 from 17 attempts so far. Sole shares the right wing position with David Balaguer – succeeding legendary FC Barcelona captain Victor Tomas.

“When Jordi Ribera became our coach, he gave the chance for younger players to step in,” says Sole. “It is, of course, hard for everybody to get a place in this team, as they play on a high level for years. But in the EHF EURO Qualification and the test matches, I grabbed this chance.”

The ‘post-Tomas duo’ are doing a brilliant job so far at the EHF EURO in Croatia, scoring an overall of 44 goals – 13 for Balaguer, 31 for Sole. “Of course, I could not expect to be Spain’s top scorer,” Sole said after the semi-final, when he was top scorer with seven goals. Both Spain right wings play for French clubs – Balaguer at Nantes, Sole at Fenix Toulouse. Sole has played for Fenix since 2016, after being part of Granollers’ famous youth programme.

With qualification for the final, Spain’s achieved their first EHF EURO goal, but there is one victory left: “We came to Croatia to win the gold medal, to become European champions for the first time,” Sole underlines the huge hope. “Spain have been in the final four times, but did not win. Now we hope to end this series.”

It is the first major tournament in Sole’s career, as Balaguer and Tomas were Spain’s right wings at the World Championship 2017 in France, when they were eliminated by Croatia in the quarter-finals. Sole took Tomas’ place for the last matches of EURO Qualification in June. “Of course, the coach decides whether David or I play, but both of us got nearly the same time on court,” says Sole. “It was not a problem at all for me to become part of this team. All players are very sympathetic, they make it so easy for young players to enter and to adapt.”

On Sunday, Sole’s dream continues: “Sweden are difficult to play, but we have the confidence from our previous matches, as we beat the defending European and world champions on our way to the final.”

written by Björn Pazen / cg