Just like Serbia, hosting an EHF EURO event was the major step in the development of the Austrian team. The tournament in 2010, in which the organiser finished in ninth position, was a boost for handball in Austria and also a boost for the players of the national team. Most of their stars like Viktor Szilagyi, Robert Weber and Nikola Marinovic play for German clubs and in contrast to their German teammates, they made it to Denmark.
It is the first time ever that Austria officially qualified for an EHF EURO event after they were directly qualified as host in 2010. The Icelandic handball school is another part of the improvement. After Dagur Sigurdsson (nowadays coach of German VELUX EHF Champions League participants Füchse Berlin) ended his spell in charge of the national team in 2011, the federation took his former Icelandic teammate, Patrekur Johannesson. He continued on the way of Sigurdsson and formed a mixture of experienced players like Szilagyi and young guns like Raul Santos.
The 'flying' Santos was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, but moved to Austria at the age of 11. Raul and his prowess were spotted by Austrian handball club Leoben during a nine-pin bowling session.
At 15 he already played for Leoben's men's team, in 2011 he made his debut for the national team.
Santos is a player, who inspires coaches, fans and teammates at the same time: whether it is through his springiness on the court, his speed in counter attacks, his calmness at just 21 or his life outside the court in which he pursues a career as rapper.
In January 2013 he joined Germany Bundesliga side VfL Gummersbach, one of the best known clubs in European handball.
The Hungary-born team captain is also the leader and brain of the Austrian game. The 35-year-old Szilagyi has played for top clubs such as THW Kiel, SG Flensburg-Handewitt and VfL Gummersbach and currently enjoys his stint with German Bundesliga new arrival Bergischer HC.
He is regarded as one of the best middle backs in the world and the only handball player, who has won all three major European Cup titles in club handball: the EHF Champions League with THW Kiel in 2007, the EHF Cup (2009) and the Cup Winner's Cup (2010) with VfL Gummersbach.
Goalkeeper Nikola Marinovic is one of the keys to success for the Austrian national team. On many occasions the Belgrade-born has been his team's perfect support.
During the EHF EURO 2014 Qualification he stood in the way of countless Serbian, Bosnian and Russian attacks.After having started his career in Belgrade, he played in Austria for multiple champions Bregenz before moving to Germany in 2009.
Following four years overall with first Balingen and then Wetzlar, he now plays for Frisch Auf! Göppingen. For the past season the German Bundesliga coaches voted for Marinovic as one of the league's best goalkeepers.
THE COACH - Patrekur Johannesson
Patrekur Johannesson, a former Icelandic national team player, joined the Austrian national team in summer 2011.
The 41-year-old is known for selecting a perfect mix of experienced players and young talents.
His saying during the qualification, “It’s always seven against seven, no matter how enthusiastic the crowd is”, led Austria to a remarkable draw in Serbia.
His training sessions are said to be intense and he meticulously prepares himself and his team ahead of every match. His assistant coach is Erwin Gierlinger.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events