1 January 2017
Each week, we offer you a full portrait of one of the players that will be in the spotlights during the World Championships 2017, with the help from one of the four ambassadors of the competition. This week, Daniel Narcisse, as seen by Philippe Gardent.
With all his titles and his exceptional longevity, Daniel Narcisse is already one of the greatest handball player ever, even though his astounding career is not over yet. Since 1998, year of his professionnal debut with Chambéry, he won almost every trophies, starting with the 2001 World Championship at home with the French team. He was 21 at the time, and the youngest player on the squad. He also won the French championship with Chambéry in 2001, and then left the Savoyard side in 2004 to go to Germany, in Gummersbach. There, Narcisse made himself a top shooter reputation, and earned a now famous nickname : « Air France ». Back in Chambéry from 2007 to 2009, Narcisse then enjoyed the most successful spell of his career in Kiel, from 2009 to 2013. The powerful left or centre back won the Champions League twice with the Zebras (2010 and 2012), and was chosen as the IHF World Player of the Year in 2012, after winning the London Olympics too, with the French team. Now aged 37, Narcisse has built himself a new role with the French team and with PSG, where he’s playing since 2013. He is now the « money time » man, the one who brings his experience and his cold blood in the tight ends of games. In the last Olympic Games semi-final in Rio, he thus scored the winning goal against Germany, at the last second. Defeated by Denmark in the final in Rio, Daniel Narcisse will have, in a few days, a new opportunity to win a eighth title with the French team, at home this time, like in 2001…
Philippe Gardent about Daniel Narcisse
“He’s a very talented player and has a great physical potential too. His long experience of top level gave him an incredible ability to litteraly absorb pressure, we saw it again at the end of the Olympics semi-final against Germany in Rio. He is the one who breaks the deadlock, with his famous one-on-one, which really is unique. It’s his trademark, everyone knows it for years everywhere around the world, but it is still as efficient and reliable as ever. He is a key player, an essential part when you’re looking for the title.”
Daniel Narcisse and the 2017 World Championship
“The whole French team is going into action, in order to do something great at this home World Championship. I experienced this in 2001, and it was the beginning of an unbelievable adventure for me. Being able to live a moment like that twice in my career is something extraordinary. In 2001, I didn’t think I would play the World Championship, it all went very fast for me early in my career. To live a moment like that at home is always something very special. And we were lucky enough to go all the way to win the title, which makes it even more emotional. I talked about that feeling with my teammates, I told them that it was worth every effort to live moments like this. The four groups of the first round are pretty consistent. I think it would not have made much difference if we had be drawn in another group. We’re not really looking for revenge on Poland and Norway, after these two teams beat us at Euro 2016. These teams clearly gave us hard time in last January, they both showed a lot of quality and potential and they really improved their game in the last years. All this means our group will be tough, and we will have to take it very seriously. We all know very well that we have to rank as high as possible in our group, in order to have a better chance for the potential eighth-final and quarter-final, which will be very tough games too.”
The phenomenal play
Highly spectacular player, Daniel Narcisse is gifted with a tremendous 80-centimeter vertical leap. The native of Reunion gave a brilliant demonstration of it during the 2008 Olympic Games semi-final against Coratia in Beijing. Less than two minutes before the end, as the French team was leading by two, « Air France » flew over the Croatian defense to score an unbelievable in-flight shot, from a Michaël Guigou pass. A true masterpiece.