For the third time in the history of the German men’s national team a non-German born coach will be in charge.
After Yugoslav Vlado Stenzel (1974-1982) and Romanian Petre Ivanescu (1987-1989), today (12 August) the Icelandic Dagur Sigurdsson was announced as the new coach.
Sigurdsson (41) will take over the team from Martin Heuberger, whose contract was not extended after it had expired 30 June and after the Germans originally had missed out on qualification for the 2015 World Championship in Qatar.
Sigurdsson was presented in a press conference on Tuesday by Bernhard Bauer, president of the German Handball Federation (DHB), and Uwe Schwenker, newly elected President of the German Bundesliga in Leipzig.
As agreed by the DHB and Füchse Berlin, Sigurdsson will work in a double function for the national team and the reigning German Cup winner and host of the 2014 EHF Cup Finals until the end of this season in June 2015, then Füchse release the Icelandic from his contract, which was originally valid until 2017, to focus solely on the national team.
Sigurdsson has prior experience of this work, as he coached Füchse Berlin and the Austrian national team in 2009/2010 season, leading the Austrians to their biggest international success, finishing their home EHF EURO in ninth position.
Former centre back Sigurdsson played 217 international matches for Iceland. At club level his first international club was Wuppertal (Germany), before he first left to Japan, and then returned to Europe, becoming player coach and then coach of former Austrian champions Bregenz in 2003.
In 2008/2009 he was manager and director of his former Icelandic club Valur Reykjavik before joining the Austrian Federation and Füchse Berlin.
In their first season in EHF European Cup competitions, Sigurdsson led the “Foxes” straight to the 2012 edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, in 2014 Füchse were semi-finalists while hosting the EHF Cup Finals and won the German Cup.
His debut on the German bench will be two tests against Switzerland in September, followed by the first competitive matches, the EHF EURO 2016 qualifiers against Finland (30 October in Gummersbach) and against his former team Austria (2 November in Vienna).
Sigurdsson is the second key person at Füchse Berlin to take a major role at the DHB, following Füchse manager Bob Hanning, who is the vice-president of the Federation and responsible for the national teams.
On Sunday, Füchse President Frank Steffel had announced that the club will release Sigurdsson for his new duties.
“Sigurdsson has the best opportunity and the qualities to start a new era of German handball. But it was a really tough decision for us to release him,” Steffel said.
In the DHB's official press release, Sigurdsson was excited about what lies ahead.
"It is a great honour for me to get the trust of DHB and the league and to be responsible as coach for the German national handball team.
“We have a huge task ahead of us in autumn with the start of EURO qualification and then in January, the World Championship in Qatar is the next challenge for us,” said the 41-year-old who addressed his dual role, saying: “I am absolutely confident because in all previous meetings I felt full support for our joint work within German handball.”