One of Swedish handball’s greatest women’s players of all time has played her last match in the blue and yellow jersey. After 15 international championships, 224 A-national matches and over 840 goals for Sweden, Bella Gulldén said goodbye.
– I am extremely proud to have been able to represent Sweden so many times and for all the wonderful memories it has given me, says the 31-year-old.
In November 2007, Bella Gulldén wore the Swedish national team jersey for the first time in a senior context – and has since been a key player, leader and match winner. She has played in the last 15 championships Sweden has qualified for and was a strong contributing factor to the first two and so far only championship medals we took on the women’s side – the silver in the European Championships 2010 and the bronze in the European Championships 2014 – as well as the historic World Cup semifinals 2017.
In 2014, she was named the entire European Championship’s most valuable player and has also been named player of the year in Swedish handball more times than anyone else, four. At club team level, she has become champion in Sweden, Denmark and Romania and scored a little unmatched 15 goals when CSM Bucharest won the Champions League final 2016.
To claim that Bella Gulldén is one of the greatest Swedish handball players of all time is thus no exaggeration.
– It may become even clearer when I get more perspective on it, but it is clear that I am proud, happy and grateful for everything I have experienced on the handball field. I still have a few years left on it, but unfortunately feel that the body does not hold for continued national team play.
– I have had problems with my foot for several years and it has meant that I have not been able to perform at the level I have been at before. I have had to accept and come to terms with that and it is a decision that I have been able to think through for a long period. The body simply does not support an Olympic venture with all that entails.
Being away for so long from his son Lias, 17 months, has also been tough and has contributed to the decision.
– He is the one who gives me the most joy in life and I would not be able to be away from him for a whole summer.
Tonight’s final match in the main round against the semifinal-chasing reigning champion France, which is in progress at the time of writing, is thus her last in the blue and yellow jersey.
– It will be emotional, especially afterwards. I will definitely cry. I have always loved playing for Sweden and I will of course miss that. But I will be their biggest supporter when they step into the Olympic qualifiers and hopefully the Olympics this summer. Tomas ( Axnér ) and Johanna ( Wiberg ) are shaping something really good and it will be very exciting to develop the national team.
Born: June 29, 1989
Length: 177 cm
A-national team debut: 2007 against Germany
Clubs: IK Sävehof (–2011), Viborg HK (2011–2015), CSM Bucharest (2015–2018), Brest Brittany (2018 -)
A-international matches: 224
Championships: 15 (Olympics 2008, European Championships 2008, World Cup 2009, European Championships 2010, World Cup 2011, Olympic Games 2012, European Championships 2014, World Cup 2015, Olympic Games 2016, European Championships 2016, World Cup 2017, European Championships 2018, WC 2019, EC 2020)
Prizes: EC silver 2010, EC bronze 2014, MVP in EC 2014, Player of the year in Swedish handball 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018, SM gold 2007, 2009 and 2010, Danish champion 2014, Romanian champions 2016, 2017 and 2018
Mandatory Credit © Jure Erzen / kolektiff