For the rock classic "We are the Champions", the overjoyed players of SC Magdeburg around Blitz returnee Gisli Kristjansson waved the Champions League trophy in a golden rain of confetti after the triumph in the heart-stopping final. Thanks to a courageous and passionate performance, the German runner-up won the premier class for the second time after 2002 and after the award ceremony heralded the start of a long night of partying.
The German champion of 2022 prevailed in front of 20,000 fans in Cologne in the final against the Polish champion Industria Kielce with the German national goalkeeper Andreas Wolff with 30:29 (26:26, 13:15) after extra time and thus increased the success bonus for the entire season in the Champions League to one million euros.
"Everyone dreamed of it"
"It's unreal. We all dreamed of it," said Wiegert about the happy ending in another handball thriller. "I'll never understand what this team has achieved throughout the season. It's unbelievable." At the moment of success, Wiegert, who was a player at the first triumph 21 years ago, rushed to the stands to join his family. "Apart from the team, it's the most important thing I have in the world. I can only say a thousand thanks," said the successful coach.
For his team, it is the preliminary culmination of continuous development over the past few years. In 2021, the SCM had won the European League, a year later the German championship. In addition, the Magdeburg team became club world champions in 2021 and 2022 and were in the final of the European League last year.
"What SC Magdeburg has achieved is outstanding and a sporting fairy tale. No matter what setbacks this team had to cope with - they always came back," congratulated DHB boss Andreas Michelmann and stated: "That was another great moment for the German handball."
The first celebrations among the Magdeburg fans came even before kick-off, when backcourt ace Kristjansson ran into the arena to warm up despite his shoulder injury suffered the day before in the semifinals against record winners and defending champions FC Barcelona. "It's not a miracle cure," Wiegert said on the broadcaster DAZN.
Kristjansson initially on the bench
The 23-year-old Icelander came to him and said he really wanted to play. "I then spoke to our doctors about what a worst-case scenario could look like. I was told: It can't get any worse than the upcoming operation," reported Wiegert.
At first, Kristjansson only sat on the bench. But even without him, the SCM got off to a good start and quickly pulled away to 4:1. However, the cushion was used up after twelve minutes at 6: 6 because DHB keeper Wolff presented himself in top form in the Poland goal. A little later, Kielce took the lead for the first time.
In the middle of the first half, Kristjansson came onto the floor and was successful with his first throw. But the Polish champion was now better in the game and went into half-time with a two-goal advantage. After the change, the gap even grew to four goals.
The SCM never gave up, but initially ran after the deficit in vain. However, with 12:20 minutes to go and the score at 20:22, the sporting events took a back seat when the game had to be interrupted for 13 minutes due to a medical emergency in the stands.
"Stories that only sport writes"
As it went on, Magdeburg managed to tie and four minutes before the end at 25:24 a lead again for the first time, which didn't last. So it went into overtime, in which the SCM had the better end for itself. Kay Smits was the best thrower for the German runners-up with eight goals. Kristjansson still scored six goals.
"These are the stories that only sport writes," Wiegert said of Kristjansson's unexpected lightning comeback. The Icelander himself could hardly believe it. "I really have no idea how that went. The shoulder hurts a lot now, but it was worth it," said Kristjansson.
Wolff also expressed great respect for the backcourt player, "who led his team to victory despite his shoulder dislocation," said the 32-year-old. Wolff himself was "empty and angry" after the defeat.
Eighth CL triumph of a German team
For the traditional club from Saxony-Anhalt it is the fourth victory in the highest European club competition. In 1978 and 1981 the ten-time East German champions won the European Cup.
It is the eighth triumph of a German team since the introduction of the Champions League in the 1993/94 season. In addition to Magdeburg, THW Kiel (2007, 2010, 2012, 2020), HSV Hamburg (2013) and SG Flensburg-Handewitt (2014) also won the premier class.
In the semifinals of the Final4 tournament on Saturday, Magdeburg beat Barcelona 40:39 after throwing seven meters in a handball thriller. Last year's finalist Kielce reached the final with a 25:24 against Paris Saint-Germain, which was lost again. The Poles have to wait for their second victory after 2016.