Nowadays Andreas Thiel is sitting in his Cologne office taking care of legal cases. He used to be one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, arguably the best of all time. A seven-time German handball player of the year he won various domestic titles, including five national championships. He also won the European cup with the VfL Gummersbach twice and the IHF-Cup once.
Thiel was the face of German handball especially during the 1980s, known to be very emotional on the court and outspoken off the court. The latter part hasn’t changed, which sometimes doesn’t fit with his role as the legal adviser of the DKB Handball-Bundesliga. But the 55-year old doesn’t care and voices his often quite strong opinion without any regrets.
After finishing his career he stayed in the business as a goalkeepers coach of the German national teams, first the men and later the women. He still coaches the keepers of Bayer Leverkusen’s handball women. Handball occupies around 20 hours per week of his life, but “I couldn’t do without it. I hope that day will never come. Handball has always been a big part of my life.”
His influence on the game is quite strong, as he is part of the arbitration panel which granted a second, some called it third, chance to the HSV Hamburg last summer with a change of mind at the very last moment. “When it comes to licenses it’s not that simple. I also didn’t like how the media portrayed the case. The terms and regulations are there for a reason.”
Thiel was also quite straight when asked about a foul by Uwe Gensheimer against Rene Toft Hansen, when the Rhein-Neckar Löwen faced Kiel last season. The German captain supposedly hit the Dane into the stomach, but the referees didn’t see what happened. The warlock, as he was nicknamed during his active days for his impressive reflexes, would have solved the problem old fashion style.
“I may be a relic of former times, but I prefer to sort things out like real men. There was enough time left in the game.” Thiel refers to hard battles between Piet Krebs and Alfred Gislason, now the head coach of Kiel, back in the days. “They fought with each other, but after the game they shook hands and drank a beer together and are good friends since then.”
In a recent interview he was also asked about the current generation of goalkeepers. While Flensburg’s Matthias Andersson is at the end of his career, Andreas Wolff of the HSG Wetzlar is taking the league by storm. “I still consider Andersson the best keeper of the league right now, he’s just prepared the best. But Wolff is on his way to be Germany’s next top keeper.”
Although Thiel retired 14 years ago, you can hear his desire for the sport with every single word he says. Asked as if he was disappointed when Jakob Vestergaard took over as the coach of Germany’s women and released Thiel from his duties he first said “no comment”, just to add “that every coach can make his choice. That’s all I want to say.” You can imagine what he really had in mind.