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Player of the Year - Men 2009


Slawomir Szmal in Focus

“Kasa“, which is Szmal’s nickname, inherited his uncle’s talent – who had already been goalkeeper of the Polish national team and played in the German Bundesliga. In 2003, Szmal also left his home country Poland for Germany, transferring from Wisla Plock to TuS Nettelstedt. In 2005, he transferred again to Rhein Neckar Löwen. 31-year-old Szmal, who comes from the Polish city of Opole, experienced his first unforgettable moment with the national team at the World Championship 2007, when the Polish team, also thanks to his saves, reached the WCh final which they lost against host Germany though. At the World Championship 2009 in Croatia, Szmal again backed up the Polish team. Once again, he reached the semi-final of the World Championship – this time, the Polish team won the bronze medal. At this year’s European Championship, Szmal who is able to react very quickly again led his team to the semi-final, but Szmal and Poland finally lost the third-place play-off against Iceland. In Austria, Szmal was voted into the All-Star Team of the European Championship as the best goalkeeper. After the World Championship 2007, Szmal was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. He has played 185 matches with the Polish national team so far. After the victories of Nikola Karabatic in 2007, who was playing for THW Kiel during the voting period, and Thierry Omeyer in 2008, also playing for Kiel, Szmal is now the third World Handball Player in a row coming from a German club.