Handball Talk with
Gidsel, Golla and Pérez de Vargas

Interview with our three PUMA Handball Stars about the Handball Euros, their preparation and ambitions

January 16, 2024

Interview with our three PUMA Handball Stars about the Handball Euros, their preparation and ambitions

January 16, 2024

Before the European Handball Championships in Germany, we caught up with three standout PUMA handballers: Johannes Golla, the captain of the German national team; Mathias Gidsel, the MVP of the 2023 World Championships; and Gonzalo Perez de Vargas, the world-class goalkeeper for the Spanish national team. They shared insights into their careers, thoughts on the tournament, and spilled the beans on their favorite PUMA products. Read their stories now!

On a scale from 1 – 100 how excited are you for the upcoming Euros in Germany?

Golla: Of course, the anticipation is 100 per cent and the excitement grows a little more every day! Every tournament with the national team is a great honor, but a tournament in your own country is a childhood dream coming true! I cheered on our world champions as a child in 2007 and felt great admiration and inspiration.

Gidsel: 100! It’s always a big pleasure to represent your country at a huge tournament. And this time it’s also in Germany, which for me is one of the best countries to host a Handball championship.

Pérez de Vargas: Honestly, I’ve heard people expect this to be the best handball event ever! Germany is excelling in our sport and we are going to see great skill levels and on top of that we’ll play in the best halls with a great crowd and a great atmosphere, I’m excited!

You all had great careers so far – Can you share a specific moment that stands out as your personal highlight so far?

Golla: There are certainly many special moments that will always stay in my head. But the first Bundesliga game and, of course, the first international game are definitely very special milestones of my career.

Gidsel: Of course, my first game at the World Cup 2021 in Egypt stands out. It was my first time on the biggest stage and also the first time I was playing from the start. I was a nervous wreck.

Pérez de Vargas: There have been complicated moments, such as not qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, and I think that from then on, the goal of qualifying for Tokyo was so, so big and so important that for me, the bronze medal at the 2021 Olympics and the two Championships in a row in 2021 and ‘22 are undoubtedly the highlights of my career.

How have you been preparing mentally and physically for the Euro tournament?

Golla: Basically, the same as for any other game. I aim to prepare myself perfectly to meet my opponent. This gives me the necessary confidence on the pitch.

Gidsel: I do try to prepare myself for big tournaments both physically and mentally. I focus what I have learned from the previous tournaments – taking good and bad lessons with me from my previous experiences, so I don’t make the same mistakes again. That way I’m trying to be a better and cleverer player every time I go into a new tournament.

Pérez de Vargas: For me, fatherhood is a major change on all levels. Emotionally, it brings me immense joy and a sense of purpose. When it comes to preparing for the Euros, well, it means less time to rest, to work, less time for scouting or working out, but the drive to leave a legacy and set an example has only intensified. Every competition now holds a new significance, shaping how I approach matches. And of course I am looking forward to seeing my son in the stands at major tournaments, even if he’s still very young, starting with this European one.

What are the goals you’ve set for yourself for the tournament?

Golla: Goals are difficult to define and depend on an incredible number of aspects at a tournament like this. But my dream is clearly to reach the semi-finals.

Gidsel: To become European Champion, nothing else.

Pérez de Vargas: Our team’s goal is to keep competing at a high level, like we’ve been doing for the past decade, always in the running for medals. Personally, I aim to contribute at least as much as I have in past championships where we’ve clinched medals, and hopefully, secure a direct qualification for the Olympics.

Which shoe model will you be using at the Euros in Germany – why is this your favourite shoe to play in?

Golla: I wear the Eliminate Nitro SQD. This shoe combines everything I need for a good feeling on the pitch. It is stable, but still light enough to feel free in all movements. What’s more, it has been made possible for my children’s names to be printed on the shoes. This is hopefully a lucky charm, but certainly a great motivation for me.

Gidsel: I will play in the Accelerate Nitro SQD, which recently got a huge upgrade regarding the weight. I have always liked it and been playing in thet model. I just feel very comfortable in that shoe.

Pérez de Vargas: At the European Championship I will be wearing the Puma Handball. The colorway I like the most is the white one, but I don’t rule out, depending on the colours of the kit we’ll have with the national team, maybe I’ll also throw in the black and blue.

What is your favorite PUMA product (besides the shoes)?

Golla: I really can’t answer that. I am very satisfied with all PUMA products and very proud and happy to be part of the PUMAFamily.

Gidsel: My favorite thing from PUMA is actually a “yoga t-shirt” 🙈 even though I don’t do yoga. A yoga t-shirt the first thing I put on when I’m just chilling at home.

Pérez de Vargas: Choosing one thing from a brand that has a whole sportswear family that has all kinds of accessories, all kinds of products, is very difficult. I really like the collaborations and the collections that are coming out with people from other sectors and artists. I would say, if I had to choose, I really like the padel clothes and coats, these really warm winter coats.

Thank you so much for your time & best of luck for the Euros!

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