EHL: Vanasch In Search Of Third European Title

AMSTELVEEN Euro Hockey League Finals 2021-2022 Rot-Weiss Köln v SV Kampong (KO8) 2-1. Picture: Vincent Vanasch. WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

The Brussels goalkeeper will play his third EHL final on Monday afternoon with Rot Weiss Cologne. But he could, above all, become the first player to win the prestigious European competition with 3 different clubs.

After winning the Olympic title, last summer, with the Red Lions, Vincent Vanasch had to overcome a family ordeal that put a lot of things into perspective in his personal and sporting life. Absent from the field for more than 3 months, the Brussels resident only recently resumed training with the Germans of Rot Weiss Cologne and with the Red Lions. And this Monday, he will play a 3rd EHL final with… a 3rd club after the titles won, in 2015, with Oranje-Zwart and, in 2019 with the Waterloo Ducks. During the semi-final against the English of Surbiton, executioner of the Dragons, in the quarters, the Rot Weiss Cologne did not experience the slightest difficulty in validating their ticket for the final. An appointment that “The Wall” has been looking forward to since joining the German team in the summer of 2019.

Vincent Vanasch, Cologne seems ready for this EHL final?

We dominated the whole game and we logically let go when we were leading 5-0 at the scoreboard. We have only played 3 league games since the winter break and we have never been complete. But it’s nice to see the level displayed with the few matches we have in the legs. But the rhythm is there and we are ready for tomorrow.

You don’t hide your ambitions just like Bloemendaal, where Arthur Van Doren plays, whom you will find in the final?

It’s clear. I came to play in Cologne to play in this EHL final. Bloemendaal is also ready. The final will oppose the 2 big favorites for the title and especially the teams which have offered the best hockey since the start of the competition. The Dutch are very keen to renew the title won last season but we have the weapons to compete with our opponents.

What are your feelings when you have only resumed intensive training for 3 weeks, after 3 months of stopping?

The first league matches gave me a lot of confidence. I worked a lot by bending myself to a few additional training sessions. So, of course, I haven’t yet found the level I was playing in Tokyo. This is completely normal. But I am even more hungry for victories and I want to win new titles. I lived through very difficult moments and I benefit from them all the more today when I get on the pitch.

This Monday, you could win a 3rd EHL title with a 3rd club. To enter a little more into the history of Belgian sport?

Our goal this season with Cologne is to achieve the league-EHL double. What I had already achieved in 2015, in the Netherlands, with Oranje-Zwart. But you will have to give everything to achieve it. We proved with the Waterloo Ducks, in 2019, that anything can happen, in the final, since we beat Cologne, who were then ultra-favorites for the title. I want to win this 3rd European title after everything I’ve been through since last summer. In a final, anything can happen. But we are ready to handle the unexpected to win the gold medal.

Laurent Toussaint