21 October 2016
Each week, we offer you a full portrait of one of the players that will be in the spotlights during the 2017 World Championships, with the help from one of the four ambassadors of the competition. This week, Diego Simonet as seen by Philippe Gardent.
For the Simonets, handball is a family affair. Both former Argentinian internationals, Luis Simonet and Alicia Moldes are now seeing their three sons Sebastian, Diego and Pablo, following their steps. Exceptionnally gifted, Diego first shone with the national youth teams, leading Argentina to some unexpected results, like the 4th place in the 2007 Men’s Youth World Championship. Chosen as the best Argentinian handball player in 2009, he decided this very year to fly to Europe, joining the Spanish club of Torrevieja, where his elder brother Sebastian was already playing, and in which he stayed for two years. But it’s in France that Diego Simonet’s talent really exploded at the top level. In Ivry, between 2011 and 2013, and then in Montpellier, since 2013, « Chino » – his nickname – displays his exquisite technique, the terrible power of his right arm, and, above all, his unpredictability for the opposing defence. He was chosen twice as the best LNH centre back in 2014 and 2015. Now aged 26, the one who is sometimes called the « Messi of handball » injured his right knee crucial ligament in march 2016, and then was forced to miss out on the Olympic Games with a broken heart. Since then, his obsession is to completely recover in order to lead the Argentinian team in the 2017 World Championship.
Philippe Gardent about Diego Simonet
” Diego is a very instinctive player, with a huge explosive strength. For a back player, he is not very tall, but he is able to shoot through from a long range. He has the defects of his qualities, that is it is not always easy for him to play with his teammates. He’s moving so fast, with such confusing changes of pace, that he can be hard to follow sometimes, but he is one of these few players who can make a difference. Diego could play in any national team, he would inevitably be an asset. And within his team, he’s essential. Without Diego Simonet, Argentina is not Argentina anymore. He really is the archetypal Argentinian player, he has the « grinta ». He is indisputably the leader and the catalyst of this Argentinian team, through his self-denial and his commitment. I have rarely seen Diego Simonet playing backwards. “
Diego Simonet about 2017 Men’s World Championship
” I’ve been dying to play this World Championship, no one can imagine how much I want to be there. I have a huge appetite for playing, especially with my national team. During the Olympic Games, I suffered a lot from not being on the field with my teammates. We have a good team, but with not enough young players. In the squad, we are ten to play outside the country. If you want to play a tournament against Qatar, Russia or Denmark, you can’t afford to stay in Argentina. I think the young Argentinian players should go to Europe to improve and to achieve their best possible level. That is what the selection needs to get better. ” (Olé, 09/27/2016)
The phenomenal play
To illustrate Diego Simonet’s talent, we let you enjoy this magnificient goal, after a supersonic fake, scored in the 2015 Panamerican Games final in Toronto, where Argentina lost in overtime against Brazil (27-29).
Picture : Confederacion Argentina Handball