Lauge: ‘Moments like this inspired my comeback’
It is fair to say Denmark had a shocker in the EHF EURO 2020, exiting the competition after the preliminary round with just one win – against Russia.
The result followed gold at the IHF Men’s World Championship 2019, and Denmark bounced back from it with a second successive world title as well as Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games silver. Now, at EHF EURO 2022, Nikolaj Jacobsen’s team are again showing their class.
One of Denmark’s important links is Rasmus Lauge. The Telekom Veszprém centre back suffered a knee injury in December 2020 – his fourth – and was set to miss yet another major competition.
But Lauge is not the type of player that gives up easily, and has worked harder than ever to come back, stronger than before.
“I wanted to back on the top again and I’m slowly getting there. I returned to playing three months ago. It took some time to get used to everything and to be with the guys as it’s been a long time since I played this style of handball,” he reports.
The 30-year-old back court player, who is not only performing great in attack, but also gives his efforts in defence and Denmark’s transition, won his first medal (silver) with Denmark at the World Championship 2011. He has since added EHF EURO gold in 2012, a further world silver in 2013, and World Championship gold in 2019. Playing for the national team, and at the EHF EURO, is special for him.
“It means everything to me to play for the national team. It’s the proudest moment you can have, to represent your country and have full support,” Lauge says.
“Moments like this have inspired me during the recovery time. To get back on the court and to be part of this amazing team, in our efforts to win some medals, kept me motivated. We are a group of very good guys, have a lot in common and that’s shown on the court too.”
His comeback was long-awaited and fans were thrilled to see him back in the game. His hard work and passion for handball was shown in club matches and in Denmark’s test match against Norway. Coming to the EHF EURO is another big responsibility, but Lauge performed well during the preliminary round in Debrecen, playing around 40 minutes in both of the first two matches and scoring six goals.
He was on the bench for Denmark’s closing preliminary match, against North Macedonia, but did not take to the court as coach Nikolaj Jacobsen took the opportunity to play less experienced players.
“I didn’t expect to come back and have such a big role and impact immediately. I am very happy and pleased to have the faith of the coaches and my teammates. I’m trying to build and progress from game to game and to be better. Just like my team. Denmark already showed that we are progressing,” Lauge says.
EHF EURO 2020 proved that nothing can be taken for granted. Denmark finished 13th, and a result like that always piles the pressure on for the next event. How are Denmark dealing with that?
“We have put ourselves in the position where we deserve this kind of pressure and attention. We have performed on a high level from since 2011 and won a lot of medals, so I think it makes you deserve all this.
“It’s how it is. We don’t make a big deal out of it. We have our own standards and values. I believe that we have even higher goals than everyone thinks,” Lauge points out.
“Pressure is normal when you have quality guys like this. Osf course you can slip eventually, or be unlucky as we were at the last EHF EURO. That’s all part of the game
“Right now, we are looking forward to playing the main round. I am satisfied with what we have played so far in the tournament. It’s important that we are through with two points. So far, we couldn’t ask for more,” concludes Lauge ahead of the first match of the main round.