The Men’s EHF EURO 2020 will be the biggest ever with 24 teams competing in Sweden, Austria and Norway.
The tournament might become special for another reason as well, as some all-time records of the European Championship are likely to be broken in January.
In particular five players, some already owning various best marks, could rewrite the EHF EURO history books.
1. Nikola Karabatic, France
He is a four-time world champion, three-time EHF EURO champion, double Olympic champion, and three-time World Player of the Year.
And no one has played more matches at EHF EURO events than Nikola Karabatic: 60. In 2018 in Croatia, Karabatic overtook his current coach, Didier Dinart, who played 57 EHF EURO games for France.
If France win the title in January, Karabatic would become the first non-Swedish player with four EHF EURO titles. So far, only Ola Lindgren, Staffan Olsson, Stefan Lövgren, Magnus Wislander and Martin Frandesjö have reached this milestone.
Also in number of goals scored, Karabatic is one of the leading player in EHF EURO history: he is second on the all-time scorers’ list, 14 goals behind his Paris Saint-Germain HB teammate Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson.
2. Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, Iceland
Going into his 11th straight EHF EURO, Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson is the only player who has been part of all European Championships this century, following his tournament debut in 2000. In this competition he has played 52 matches for Iceland.
The left wing is the tournament’s all-time top scorer with 270 goals, followed by Karabatic (256) and yet another PSG player, Denmark’s Mikkel Hansen (194).
3. Kiril Lazarov, North Macedonia
The Macedonian goal machine holds two very special records. In 2009 in Croatia, he set the best mark for most goals at a World Championship when netting 92 times. In 2012 in Serbia, he set a similar record at the EHF EURO, with 39 goals. And he can still produce the goods: in 2017 in France, he again become top scorer of the World Championship. So, what will be in store from the HBC Nantes star at the EHF EURO 2020?
4. Mikkel Hansen, Denmark
Neither Ivano Balic not Nikola Karabatic achieved the feat. In January, Mikkel Hansen can do it: becoming the first ever player to be MVP and gold medallist of the three major tournaments at the same time. Hansen, 32, was MVP and won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the World Championship 2019.
Denmark can become the second nation, after France, to hold all major trophies in men’s handball at the same time.
Like Karabatic, Hansen is a three-time World Player of the Year. He is third on the EHF EURO top scorers’ list among all players who take part in the EHF EURO 2020.
5. Didier Dinart
No, he is not back on court again. But France head coach Didier Dinart, the former world-class defender, can become the first man to win EHF EURO gold as a player and as a coach. As a player he lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2010.
Another coaches’ record is held by Ulrik Wilbek, who is the only one to have steered a women’s and a men’s team to the EHF EURO podium: in both cases Denmark (with the women in 1994 and 1996, with the men in 2008 and 2012).
6. Mr. X?
Can anyone leave Kjetil Strand behind? The Norwegian holds a special record as he netted 19 times in Norway’s 36:33 win over Iceland at the EHF EURO 2006 in Switzerland, a record for most goals in a single EHF EURO match.
No one has come really close since, though in 2018 top scorer Ondrej Zdrahala had a strong effort when he scored 14 goals for Czech Republic against Hungary (33:27).
Men’s EHF EURO facts and figures:
Ola Lindgren, Staffan Olsson, Stefan Lövgren, Magnus Wislander, Martin Frandesjö (all Sweden/all 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002)
Thierry Omeyer, Nikola Karabatic, Michael Guigou, Jerome Fernandez, Daniel Narcisse (all France/all 2006, 2010, 2014); Pierre Thorsson, Robert Andersson, Robert Hedin (all Sweden/all 1994, 1998, 2000); Peter Gentzel, Ljubomir Vranjes, Johan Pettersson, Martin Boquist, Thomas Sivertsson, Andreas Larsson (all Sweden/all 1998, 2000, 2002)
Kasper Nielsen, Hans Lindberg, Bo Spellerberg, Lars Christiansen, Kasper Söndergaard (all Denmark/all 2008, 2012); Tomas Svensson, Magnus Andersson (both Sweden/both 1994, 2002); Jan Stankiewicz, Andreas Lundquist, Henrik Andersson, Marcus Wallgren (all Sweden/all 1998, 2000); Bertrand Gille, Guillaume Gille, Didier Dinart, Dauda Karaboue, Sebastian Bosquet (all France/all 2006, 2010); Cedric Sorhaindo, Guillaume Joli (both France/both 2010, 2014)
Winning head coaches
Bengt Johansson (Sweden) - Sweden 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002
Claude Onesta (France) - France 2006, 2010, 2014
Ulrik Wilbek (Denmark) - Denmark 2008, 2012 (also: Denmark women 1994, 1996)
Vladimir Maximov (Russia) - Russia 1996; Heiner Brand (Germany) - Germany 2004; Dagur Sigurdsson (Iceland) - Germany 2016; Jordi Ribera (Spain) - Spain 2018
60 - Nikola Karabatic (France, 2004-18)
57 - Didier Dinart (France, 1998-2012)
54 - Igor Vori (Croatia, 2004-14, 2018)
53 - Michael V. Knudsen (Denmark, 2000-2010, 2014)
53 - Jerome Fernandez (France, 1998, 2002-14)
52 - Lars Christiansen (Denmark, 1996, 2000-12)
52 - Luc Abalo (France, 2006-18)
52 - Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (Iceland, 2000-18)
51 - Raul Entrerrios (Spain, 2004, 2008-18)
51 - Daniel Narcisse (France, 2000-02, 2006-16)
Most goals (in total):
270 - Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (Iceland)
256 - Nikola Karabatic (France)
203 - Stefan Lövgren (Sweden)
194 - Mikkel Hansen (Denmark)
188 - Lars Christiansen (Denmark)
183 - Olafur Stefansson (Iceland)
182 - Filip Jicha (Czech Republic)
177 - Luc Abalo (France)
176 - Eduard Koksharov (Russia)
172 - Jerome Fernandez (France)
Top scorers (per event):
1994 in Portugal: Vasiliy Kudinov (Russia) - 50 goals
1996 in Spain: Thomas Knorr (Germany) - 41 goals
1998 in Italy: Jan Filip (Czech Republic) - 48 goals
2000 in Croatia: Oleg Velyky (Ukraine) - 46 goals
2002 in Sweden: Olafur Stefansson (Iceland) - 58 goals
2004 in Slovenia: Mirza Dzomba (Croatia) - 46 goals
2006 in Switzerland: Siarhei Rutenka (Slovenia) - 51 goals
2008 in Norway: Ivano Balic (Croatia) - 44 goals
2010 in Austria: Filip Jicha (Czech Republic) - 53 goals
2012 in Serbia: Kiril Lazarov (North Macedonia) - 61 goals
2014 in Denmark: Joan Canellas (Spain) - 50 goals
2016 in Poland: Valero Rivera (Spain) - 48 goals
2018 in Croatia: Ondrej Zdrahala (Czech Republic) - 55 goals