Domagoj Duvnjak, Croatian Handball Hero and European Championship MVP

Daniela Rogulj

January 26, 2020 – Domagoj Duvnjak was named the player of the match in the European Championship final on Sunday, as well as the MVP of the entire competition. 

Croatia handball team captain Domagoj Duvnjak may not have led his team to the gold medal this time around, but he’s won the hearts of European handball fans thanks to his brilliant play in the 2020 European Championship. 

The THW Kiel player and Dakovo native was named the best player of the European Handball Championship before Sunday’s final between Croatia and Spain. Duvnjak not only carried Croatia to the final, but he was brilliant in the defense and attack in doing so. 

Namely, Duvnjak’s 5-1 defensive play was nearly perfect, and later in the tournament, as a true captain and leader, he carried the national team in the offense to earn the MVP title.

“The Croatian captain dragged his team kicking and screaming into their first EHF EURO final since 2010 with a string of commanding and heroic performances throughout the tournament. The THW Kiel back court ace’s display in Croatia’s marathon semi-final win over Norway, which included eight goals and the crucial penalty at the end of normal time, inspired Lino Cervar’s side to the gold medal match. The heartbeat and leader of the team, Duvnjak’s overall game of breaking up play and motivating his teammates have played an instrumental role in Croatia’s success,” said the European Handball Federation.

With this recognition, Duvnjak became the only Croat, alongside Ivan Balic, who was named the European Championship MVP. Balic won it twice – in 2004 in Slovenia and 2006 in Switzerland. 

It was Spain to win the final 22:20 on Sunday in Stockholm, which left the captain reasonably defeated, but also full of pride.

“This is one of the more difficult losses of my career. I am sad but proud of the wonderful guys who deserved this medal. We missed a little to win the European Championship. This was our first defeat at the Championship. We led in the finals, but Spain punished our mistakes in the final. But the character of this team is incredible,” Duvnjak said after receiving the silver medal.

Domagoj Duvnjak joined the Croatia national team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and was part of the team to win the Olympic bronze in 2012, the silver at the World Championship in 2009 and the bronze in 2013, and three silver and two bronze medals from the European Championship. 

Duvnjak was named the IHF World Player in 2013, and in 2009, was the most expensive handball player in the history of the sport.

We tip our hats to the Croatian handball legend for a job well done. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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