He was one of the shooting stars of the tournament: Juri Knorr, 22 years old and playmaker of the German national team, impressed with strong performances at the Handball World Championship 2023. His reward was fifth place for his team and the award for best youngster.
Question: Mr. Knorr, in 2024, the home European Championship will first take place in handball and then in football. Who is more likely to be European Champion?
Juri Knorr: I'll say it diplomatically. Both teams should currently refrain from issuing such goals. Of course, for German football, the goal is always to win the title. The footballers have shown again and again over the years that they can reach the semifinals. We handball players are still a bit far away from that. But we have laid a good foundation. I'm not going to stand here and say we're going to be European champions. Things can always happen, but don't expect them.
Question: You were a very good footballer yourself when you were younger. Is there a player today that excites you?
Knorr: I like Jude Bellingham. It's unbelievable to carry a nation at such a young age with such maturity. To play a major role for England at the World Cup. Also at Borussia Dortmund, the second largest club in Germany. I've been to the stadium once or twice. When the whole stadium shouts "Jude", that's really cool. At a 19-year-old who goes ahead in every game. And at the same time exudes that certain something. He's a badass personality.
Question: The Handball World Championship with place five was six weeks ago. You were awarded as the best youngster. Looking back, how satisfied are you?
Knorr: I'm probably never completely satisfied with the way I'm made. When you're in the quarter-finals, you want to win against a big side like France, or at least play the game in such a way that you have a chance of progressing until the end. But in the end we were a little away from beating France. That's why I was dissatisfied and also noticed in many areas where things were still missing. I could list a lot of things there. Nevertheless, I'm satisfied with how I remained relatively clear despite all the hustle and bustle about myself and did my thing for the team.
Question: Footballers often receive offers from the biggest clubs after strong tournaments. Has your agent already said: "Barcelona want you back"?
Knorr: No, everything is very calm. I'm also in good hands with the lions. We can build something here. Can do it, with our coach Sebastian Hinze and the core of the team, that we can establish ourselves at the top in the long term.
Question: You are first in the table. What speaks against becoming champion this season?
Knorr: A lot more. There are still twelve games to play in the league. We have an experienced squad but with last season's experience we're humbled enough to judge that now. No one is going to stand up and say it's all about the championship. But of course we look at the table and are proud of what we have already achieved. We're also at the Final Four in Cologne, so of course we want to win the trophy.
Question: Do you see a team that is better than the lions?
Knorr: I think so, you saw it in the direct duels. We lost unluckily in Kiel, we were level in Magdeburg, and we didn't stand a chance against Berlin that day. We're just humbled and grateful for what we've accomplished so far. But we also want to reward ourselves for the starting position that we have worked for.
Question: When can Handball Germany celebrate a title again?
Knorr: We have a good, high-quality U21 team that is playing a home World Cup this summer. The foundation in Germany is always there, but there are many factors that sometimes hinder it. That's why the right steps have to be taken so that we can make bigger litters in the long term. It's a process. In the senior national team we have a relatively young team that needs to develop. The potential is in the team, but we're not at the level of Denmark or France yet.
Question: You don't have any tattoos, but you wear a conspicuous braid. How did that happen?
Knorr: I've always had long hair since I was six or seven years old. I always played with a headband, then wore a braid in my free time when it became more fashionable. I want to keep my longer hair. We'll see when I get older... (laughs)
Question: In childhood, the stars and role models were often hung on the wall as posters. Who was hanging with you?
Knorr: Our classroom at school was completely full. We had various sports stars, especially football and basketball. I'm also a big basketball fan, especially LeBron James and now Luka Doncic. As a young boy playing soccer, my role models were also those of many others. A Ronaldo at Manchester United or Mario Götze at Dortmund times. Then you read 'Bravo Sport'.
Question: And in your room was your life-size father Thomas, who collected many titles and was a national player?
Knorr: (laughs) No, not that. But I had framed jerseys of his hanging in my room.
Question: Which tattoo would you rather get: the championship trophy after winning the title with the lions or the portrait of your girlfriend?
Knorr: How big, where to? (laughs) More like my girlfriend. I don't like trophies on the skin.