Niklas Landin Jacobsen and Stine Bredal Oftedal are elected as IHF World Player of the Year 2019.
Landin receives and was nominated for the award based on his performances for Denmark and German club THW Kiel, while Oftedal was key for both Norway and her Hungarian club Györi Audi ETO KC. Both are captains of their national teams, and thereby play a pivotal role as leaders.
It is also the first time receiving the award for the two 2019 IHF World Coaches of the Year: Emmanuel Mayonnade, for his work with Netherlands and Metz Handball, and Nikolaj Jacobsen – Denmark and Rhein-Neckar Löwen (the latter to the end of the 2018/19 season).
Voting for the awards closed at midnight on Saturday July 18, the final day of the first annual International Handball Week. For each award, there were five nominees decided by a panel of 18 experts – nine from the IHF and nine top national team coaches.
The final decision for the awards came down to the public vote, which Landin, Oftedal and Mayonnade won in a landslide. The vote for World Coach of the Year – male teams, was extremely tight, with Jacobsen pipping his 2019 World Championship final opponent Christian Berge.
All of the winners topped at least one podium in 2019.
For Landin, the trophy wins came at the 2019 World Championship and the international club competition, the EHF Cup. Landin was named the All-star Team goalkeeper at the World Championship, after sharing the top save percentage with Norwegian Espen Christensen, although Landin faced almost 100 more shots on his way to achieving a rate of 38%, based off 84 saves.
2019 also saw the first half of the 2019/20 cub season, in which Landin’s club THW Kiel had superb performances that paved the way to eventually take the German championship title and sit on top of their Champions League group. Also with Kiel, Landin reached the final of the 2019 IHF Super Globe in Saudi Arabia – where he was a clear fan favourite, well beyond the borders of his own native country, Denmark, or even the European continent.
Oftedal’s big trophy in 2019 came in May, when she was a key part of the Györi Audi ETO KC team that successfully defended the women’s EHF Champions League title. Oftedal was named the All-star Team centre back for her role in Györ’s strong season. Oftedal was selected in the All-star Team again for the 2019/20 season, which is reflective of her consistent and high level of performance through to the end of 2019.
Later in 2019, as captain of Norway, Oftedal led her side to the semi-finals at the IHF Women’s World Championship in Japan. Although Norway were defeated by Spain in the semi-final and lost the bronze-medal match to Russia, Oftedal had the third highest number of assists, with 47, and also contributed 51 goals. As playmaker, Oftedal’s role is not only reflected in the statistics. The fact she ranked among the most for playing time in Norway’s squad shows the value of her presence on court for the side.