Grambusch keen for Germany to start closing gap to top trio

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

Six Rot-Weiss Koln men, a trio from Uhlenhorst Mulheim and Mannheimer HC’s Dan Nguyen will form part of the Germany side to contest the European Championships in Antwerp.

Rot-Weiss man Mats Grambusch will captain the side, leading his clubmates Victor Aly, Tom Grambusch, Johannes Grosse, Timur Oruz and Christopher Ruhr with Marco Miltkau – on his way from Koln to La Gantoise this season – also in the line-up.

Uhlenhorst’s Timm Herzbruch, Lukas Windfeder and Ferdinand Weinke also make the cut in a talented squad that also features HC Bloemendaal’s Florian Fuchs.

Grambusch - whose club will play in the EHL Men KO16 in October - has been recently installed as captain, a role he did brilliantly at club level en route to the EHL title in 2017, and he is looking forward to the challenge of winning back the continental title.

"After the 2016 Olympics, Martin Häner, Florian Fuchs and myself were represented in a leadership team,” he said of the captaincy role. “Before that, I already belonged to the team council. Now there was an election at a meeting in Mönchengladbach, with the result that I became captain and Martin [Haner] is co-captain.

“Behind Martin and me everything becomes much more open. Several people will be active within the team on various topics and responsibility will be distributed to more shoulders."

He hopes that Germany – now seventh in the world rankings – can start making inroads to close the gap to the leading nations, starting this week.

"I do not really see ourselves at the top right now. The top three - Australia, Belgium and Holland - are one step ahead of us. I see us in the group behind it, with Great Britain, Argentina and India.

“We are currently world ranking seventh, and the world rankings are not lying there either. But it is true that we have the potential to attack those above us but the great talent that is undoubtedly there has not yet fully exploited.

“It should not be forgotten that all the teams that lie ahead of us live and work under professional conditions. Unfortunately, we are only semi-professional in some areas.”

In that arena, he says that for himself, personally, “external pressure is not that important for me” but he does know there is an expectation to push for the podium.

“My goal is to get the best out of every tournament, and when you play in a strong side like the HONAMAS, it's often tied to a medal. That is my claim and also my pressure, which I impose myself. What comes from outside, I do not really care."

And while his side will be a clear favourite to advance from the group stages along with the Netherlands, he says they cannot afford to let anything slip against Ireland or Scotland.

“I can only point out that the Scots have just beaten Spain, with whom we had our problems in the Pro League. And against Ireland, we just barely won in the Olympics in Rio and drew at the European Championships in 2017.

“If you do not realize how close it is at the top in Europe top right now, you do not know your way around. Still, it is our clear aspiration to beat these nations - it's just not as easy as it was ten years ago."

“I'm looking forward to this European Championship because such tournaments are very special if they take place in Holland, Belgium or Germany. It's going to be a cool event and a huge hockey festival."