“The team needs you right now,” said Nikolai Jacobsen and Andy Schmid appointed the reins. Instead, the coach pushed him onto the field when Rhein Necker Lewin threatened to gamble away from everything. Schmid, the playmaker, had already been named the Bundesliga Handball Player of the Year twice in May 2016, delighting fans with magical hints of the area, but he did not manage to become a champion with his team. And now, in this decisive game in Wetzlar, that fate seemed to repeat itself.
Then Schmid made the transition from a brilliant handball player to a winning player.
“Andy is our captain, he’s there for it,” Kim Ekdal de Ritz said later after Schmid finally led his team to a decisive victory. With seven goals, all scored in the last 18 minutes, the Swiss secured the Lions’ victory at HSG Wetzlar – two weeks later, Badeners were German champions for the first time.
When photos of years past were displayed on the video wall at the Mannheim Arena on Wednesday night, Wetzlar’s change scenes weren’t among them. They were the turning point in the career of Schmid, who had to shake off his self-doubt in order to become a legend in his sport. Almost every one of the 11,500 spectators left until after the match had ended to say goodbye. For twelve years with Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Schmid has grown from an exceptionally good handball player to a captain. Now he’s leaving the big stage. Not only the lions, but the entire German handball league is losing a great figure.
Since then, the playmaker’s performance from Switzerland has decided whether to win or defeat
Not much was missing to prevent an emotional evening for Schmid and Löwen fans after twelve years together, because in the summer of 2011, a year after he arrived in Germany, Schmid wanted to leave. In the first season, the delicate Swiss player hardly played and did not feel comfortable in the new environment. “This was probably the hardest time of my career,” he says today of the months he had his doubts but decided to stay. This was the most important decision for Lions and for him, it was the beginning of the golden years.
Since then, Schmid has been the center of the lions. Ove Gensheimer, born in Mannheim, was and remains the club’s president, from now on the playmaker’s performance from Switzerland decided whether to win or lose. Schmid shaped the game and made the Lions a contender for the championship. However, a few years passed before the club won its first domestic title as Schmid won. After a losing championship battle in 2014, when THW Kiel only won due to a slightly better goal difference, two years later the Lions seemed to lack the energy to take the big hit. Baden went to Wetzlar by one point over SG Flensburg-Handewitt, and everyone at the club was more afraid of failure than convinced they could become champions.
For 42 minutes, the team and its manager ran towards bankruptcy before head coach Jacobsen Schmid took to the field and gave his career a decisive turn. The playmaker’s skepticism lingered, but with Whitsler winning the first championship two weeks later, the conviction arose that not only victories, but also great victories could be celebrated.
He wants to play in Lucerne for another two years, and then his coaching career should start
A special feature of the sport is that some of Schmid’s brilliant hints of the region have become an internet hit, but the lion leader’s mental strength hasn’t. It’s hard to take pictures, but you can see it in the collection of titles after 2016. The Lions celebrated two championships and won a National Cup with Schmid, who attaches more value to these awards than the fact that he was the first handball player to be named the best player in the Bundesliga.
On Wednesday evening, Schmid once again shone in the SAP Arena, but was unable to prevent defeat to THW Kiel. The Lions are no longer a top team due to poor management decisions, it is likely that they will finish the season in 10th place. Not because of, but despite the achievements of Andy Schmid. At almost 39 years old, the Swiss was also the best lion player in his final season.
Schmid will continue his playing career at home with HC Kriens-Lucerne for two years. After that, as a coach, he would like to try to repeat the successes that he had as a player. “You always see each other twice in life” Schmid said when he said goodbye – it would be surprising if Rhein Neckar Leuven and the Bundesliga didn’t see Switzerland return in a new role.