Age matters at the EHF FINAL4

EHF / Björn Pazen

How much experience do you need to win the most prestigious trophy in the world of club handball? Let’s have a look at the most experienced – or, the oldest – players who enter the court in LANXESS arena for the EHF FINAL4 Men 2022 this weekend.

If everything would only be a matter of age, THW Kiel will raise the trophy on Sunday. Three of the four oldest players included in the quads of the four teams, play for the German side.

And the oldest one is Kiel’s latest arrival: Norwegian Bjarte Myrhol, who turned 40 on 29 May, has joined to replace injured line player and defence boss Hendrik Pekeler.

A Kiel triumph would not make Myrhol the oldest EHF Champions League winner of this season, as fellow Norwegian Katrine Lunde was 42 when she lifted the trophy again with Vipers Kristiansand in Budapest two weeks ago.

Lunde was of at the same age as ‘El Gigante’: record winner Andrej Xepkin, who won his seventh career EHF Champions League in 2007 as a late arrival at Kiel to replace an injured line player…

An advanced age bodes well at the EHF FINAL4. Arpad Sterbik was the oldest MVP of the event in 2017, when he steered HC Vardar to the title at age 37. His former Ciudad Real teammate Jose Javier Hombrados was 40 when playing the 2012 final with Atlético Madrid. And Macedonian legend Kiril Lazarov, all-time top scorer at the EHF FINAL4 alongside Mikkel Hansen with 68 goals, was 41 when he played with HBC Nantes in Cologne last year.

Putting the focus on the 2022 edition, Kiel have the oldest (Myrhol) and the second-oldest player in their ranks: Czech defence specialist Pavel Horak, who will turn 40 in November. Third-oldest player is Veszprém goal getter Petar Nenadic, who will turn 36 later in June, ahead of Kiel’s two-time EHF Champions League winner Steffen Weinhold and Barça’s Tunisian late arrival Youssef Benali, who are both 35.

Eight EHF FINAL4 2022 players, including IHF World Player of the Year Niklas Landin and his predecessor Domagoj Duvnjak (both Kiel), were born in 1988.

And what about the young guns? Four players born in 2002 are listed in the official squad lists of the four teams, and two of them will only be 19 this weekend: Cezary Surgiel (Kielce) and Peter Lukasz (Veszprém), while two others have just turned 20: Leon Ciudad-Benitez (Kiel) and Zoran Ilic (Veszprém).

And the youngest player who was part of Barça’s title-winning team last season is back in Cologne: Domen Makuc, the 21-year-old Slovenian playmaker. He can match the best mark for youngest player with two EHF FINAL4 triumphs: Aron Palmarsson was 19 when he won with Kiel for the first time in 2010, and 21 when he won again in 2012 – the second of his meanwhile three EHF Champions League trophies.

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