Magnusson: “We need two perfect games”
Ómar Ingi Magnusson has heard the comparison many times, but never gets bored of it. To be compared to a handball legend does not sound too bad after all.
When SC Magdeburg won the EHF Champions League in 2002, one of their stars was Icelandic right back Ólafur Stefánsson, who went on to win three more Champions League trophies with Ciudad Real.
When Magnusson played in the Icelandic under-20 national team, Stefánsson was his coach.
And when Magnussen was 23, he arrived at Magdeburg – the former club of Stefánsson.
“No, I had not talked to Olafur about my upcoming transfer to Magdeburg,” said Magnussen, who plays right back, just like Stefánsson did. “But of course, I know what he did here and how his status is in Magdeburg.”
Born in the handball-crazy city of Selfoss, Magnusson started his professional career at Valur in the capital Reykjavik, the home club of Stefánsson.
At age 19, he moved to Denmark as he joined Aarhus, he made his national team debut at age 20 and started playing for two-time champions Aalborg, where he was discovered by Magdeburg.
Magnussen signed a four-year contract with Magdeburg until 2024. He was expected to be one half of an outstanding Icelandic duo, but his compatriot Gisli Kristjansson has suffered from bad luck so far.
The 21-year-old playmaker is currently recovering from his fourth shoulder injury in the less than two years he has been with Magdeburg.
“This is such a sad, sad story with Gisli. He could have helped us so much, we would fit so good, but now, others have to manage it,” Magnusson said.
Otherwise, all his expectations from joining Magdeburg have been fulfilled.
“I heard so much about the club and it is really great to play here. The club is great, the team is great, and in the city they all love handball.”
I do not care about goals. It is about winning a match, it is about playing two successful matches in Mannheim, not about my goals. I still can improve and do things better.
The EHF Finals Men 2021 in Mannheim on Saturday and Sunday will be Magnusson’s second four-team finals tournament, after playing at such event in an Icelandic youth competition.
At the EHF Finals, Magdeburg’s right back is supposed to show his shooter abilities and qualities again and to steer SCM to their first international trophy since the last of three EHF Cups in 2007.
Magnussen has netted 81 times so far in the EHF European League, including double-digit outings against Besiktas (10) and Montpellier (12) in the group phase, against Pelister (10) in the Last 16, and against IFK (12) in the quarter-final.
“I do not care about goals. It is about winning a match, it is about playing two successful matches in Mannheim, not about my goals. I still can improve and do things better.”
When he joined SCM, Magnusson expected nothing less than to fight for European silverware.
“We were among the favourites of the European League and we proved that we belonged to the best teams of this competition,” he said.
Magdeburg arrive at the EHF Finals this weekend with 10 straight wins in the competition. Does that make them the strongest team of the four?
“I do not think you can say which team in Mannheim is the best before the tournament is played. Four great and ambitious teams have qualified. But of course, we played really good in most of the international matches of the current season.”
In the first semi-final on Saturday at 18:00 CEST, Magdeburg face ORLEN Wisla Plock, since the draw prevented them from meeting one of the other German teams – Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Füchse Berlin, who are set to contest the second semi-final at 20:45 CEST.
“No matter if we face Plock or another team, it is still handball, it is still seven-against-seven, and we have to beat the opponents if we want to make it to the final,” Magnussen said.
“I do not regard us as the favourites, there is no favourite in this tournament. Plock are strong, we are strong,” he added. “We should be humble and only focus on Plock. You need two perfect games and then we can talk about the trophy.”