Møller: “Mental strength will decide MOTW against Barça”
He was born just across the border to Germany, and when Kevin Møller and his family went to see top handball, they always came to Flensburg.
From 2014 until 2018, the two-metre tall Danish goalkeeper had his first stint at 2014 EHF Champions League winners, then he moved to mighty FC Barcelona.
After three years in Spain, Møller is “back at home”, as he puts it.
In his first EHF Champions League game with SG Flensburg-Handewitt, Møller will meet his former club Barça in the Match of the Week on Thursday at 20:45 CEST (live on EHFTV).
eurohandball.com: After you have been abroad for three years, what has changed at Flensburg and what is still the same?
Kevin Møller: I had a really perfect re-start here, I settled so quickly, really fantastic. In three years, everything has changed. Everybody develops, the people developed, the club itself developed, so there are changes, of course, but I have to say everything developed in a very positive direction. I am so satisfied to be back here at Flensburg, it simply feels great.
eurohandball.com: When you talk about development - what did you personally take from those three years in Barcelona?
Kevin Møller: I grew up there, I have matured, I have more confidence in myself now. I became more professional, am taking more care of my body now, having a different relationship to my job. I have learnt a lot in Barcelona for my whole career.
I grew up there, I have matured, I have more confidence in myself now. I became more professional, am taking more care of my body now, having a different relationship to my job. I have learnt a lot in Barcelona for my whole career.
eurohandball.com: Was it easy to integrate in the team in Barcelona as you had some Scandinavian teammates?
Kevin Møller: In terms of language: yes, it is good when you can talk to someone in your mother tongue. One thing I knew before, but even experienced more in Barcelona, was that nationality does not play a major role in a team sport. It is about personality and mentality. We were a team of mixed nationalities and cultures, and I really did not have any problems with Scandinavians, Spaniards, Frenchmen, or our Balkan guys. It simply fitted well. It is always about your personality, how you feel somewhere.
eurohandball.com: But in terms of language and culture, Flensburg must be a like home to you?
Kevin Møller: Of course, it really felt like coming home. I grew up right across the border, my whole family lives only 40 minutes away. When we went to watch handball when I was a kid, from Southern Denmark we went to Flensburg, of course. It was a great time in Barcelona, and the club is still a part of my heart, but my ‘town of heart’ definitely is Flensburg.
eurohandball.com: Barça played a perfect 2020/21 season, without any defeat in any competition. Is it possible to repeat a series like that?
Kevin Møller: I hope so, in Flensburg! It is really sensational when you look back, but you have to see it in a different way. In the Spanish ASOBAL league, everybody expects Barça to win any match. In the German Bundesliga, this is much harder as the opponents are much stronger. Of course, In the Champions League it was an incredible run we had…
eurohandball.com: … which ended on the winners’ podium in Cologne. How did you feel after the final against Aalborg, knowing it had been your last match for Barça?
Kevin Møller: I did not think so much, I was just standing on this podium and felt extremely proud and happy. I had made it, my dream came true. Standing on this podium was one of the reasons for my transfer to Barcelona. So many professional handball players never make it to Cologne or on this podium, I was there and I fulfilled my dream. Maybe only once in a lifetime I have this opportunity, what I still can hope to repeat. Later I started thinking about many things, including that this was the final match for Barça.
eurohandball.com: Do you see a chance to return to Cologne with Flensburg this season, maybe for another final against Barça after playing the opener against them now?
Kevin Møller: Sounds nice, this constellation. Of course, we can make it to Cologne, I really hope to go all the way. But we all know that so many things can happen on this way, injuries and so on. Especially, when you play for a German club, the season is long and tough. And then it takes only one weak match in the play-offs or quarter-finals and you are out. So, we must be patient. But of course, I am looking forward to every Champions League match. You can be proud for every season and for every match you play in this competition, you should enjoy every match and every away trip with your team.
eurohandball.com: Is there any favourite on Thursday?
Kevin Møller: Barça underwent some changes and have a new coach, we suffer from some injuries but play at home. This home advantage, with having fans in the arena, makes me feel confident to say it is a fifty-fifty chance.
eurohandball.com: Who has the advantage: you, because you know the Barça shooters, or the Barça shooters, because they know you?
Kevin Møller: Barca play slightly different tactics, but I still know their strengths. But in the end I rely on my defence. If they are strong, it makes everything easier for me. In those duels the mental strength will decide, so it will be interesting.
eurohandball.com: You mentioned the fans: How important is their return for you, for Flensburg, for the whole world of handball?
Kevin Møller: I really, really hope that never again we have to play without fans. They mean so much to me, they mean more than anything else off the court. When they support you at home matches or shout against you in away matches - this is the atmosphere we love, those are the emotions we need.
eurohandball.com: In Barcelona you were a duo with Gonzalo Perez de Vargas, in Flensburg with Benjamin Buric. How important is a good relationship, despite the competition between the two of you, with the other goalkeeper?
Kevin Møller: It is really important. I have a really good relationship to Benjamin. We have respect for each other, we support each other. But of course, we are still opponents for only one position. If he saves one shot in the training, I want to save the next two. But it is a great cooperation. Is not playing against each other but playing together for the success of the team.