2023 IHF World Player of the Year winners revealed

22 Mar. 2024

2023 IHF World Player of the Year winners revealed

After more than three weeks of intense voting, the International Handball Federation (IHF) can reveal the winners of the four 2023 IHF World Player of the Year awards.

2023 marked the return of the usual IHF Male World Player of the Year and IHF Female World Player of the Year awards, while two new trophies, the IHF Young Male World Player of the Year and the IHF Young Female Player of the Year, which underline the penchant for identifying and nurturing new talents, have been introduced. 

Over the last months, the International Handball Federation have redesigned the structure of the trophy, which was previously decided by a fan vote, with the last editions seeing five players go head-to-head for the coveted prize in each category. 

The fans still had the power, as the votes casted represented a third of the final standings. Another third was reserved to the coaches which led their national teams at the IHF Men’s World Championship and the IHF Women’s World Championship. The IHF Commission of Coaching and Methods (CCM) had the final third of the decision, with the awards being sealed by the player who has the best percentage throughout the three categories.

In the IHF Male Player of the Year award, Mathias Gidsel had an overwhelming advantage in two of the categories, securing the award ahead of Ludovic Fabregas.

The same scenario happened for the IHF Female Player of the Year, with Henny Reistad winning two thirds of the vote, leapfrogging Estelle Nze Minko.

Consensus was reached in the case of the IHF Young Female Player of the Year, where Lena Grandveau secured the big trophy, while Elias Ellefsen á Skipagøtu won the IHF Young Male Player of the Year ahead of Juri Knorr.

2023 IHF Male Player of the Year – Mathias Gidsel (Denmark / Füchse Berlin)

The 25-year-old right back completes his trophy cabinet with yet another individual award, after delivering some fantastic performances since his emergence in the Denmark men’s national team in 2020. In his first major international competition, the 2021 IHF Men’s World Championship, Gidsel was named the All-Star right back, helping his side secure the gold medal.

He followed that performance with an MVP title at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as well as becoming the MVP and the top goal scorer at the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship, where he won the title once again, being one of the key players of the team which created an unprecedented streak of 30 consecutive unbeaten matches.

At club level, Gidsel had an excellent performance at Füchse Berlin, winning the EHF European League Men with the German powerhouse, as well as finishing second at the 2023 IHF Men’s Super Globe, conceding a painful loss after extra-time against fellow German side, SC Magdeburg.

Gidsel becomes only the third Danish player to secure the coveted award, after Mikkel Hansen won it three times, in 2011, 2015 and 2018, while Niklas Landin won it two times, in 2019 and 2021. Moreover, this is the fourth consecutive IHF Male Player of the Year award won by Danish players and the fifth in the past six editions, with their domination split by Nikola Karabatic in 2016.

2023 IHF Female Player of the Year – Henny Reistad (Norway / Team Esbjerg) 

Since making her debut for Norway women’s senior national team in 2018, Reistad has become one of the most consistent players in the world, having already made the final of the IHF Women’s World Championship twice, at Spain 2021, when she won the gold medal, and at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023, when she secured the silver with Norway.

After being named the All-Star left back at Spain 2021, Reistad went one step further at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023 and clinched the MVP award, with some stunning performances, including one of the finest individual displays in the history of the world handball flagship competition, with 15 goals in the semi-final against Denmark, won by Norway in extra-time.

Reistad was also the second best scorer in the competition, with 52 goals, and has the third best average number of goals per game scored for the Norway women’s national team, with over four goals scored per match. At club level, Reistad was also the top scorer of the 2022/23 season of the EHF Champions League Women, with 142 goals for Team Esbjerg, finishing fourth in the top European club competition.

The left back is also the seventh Norwegian player to secure the award, after Trine Haltvik, Cecilie Leganger, Gro Hammerseng, Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth, Heidi Loke and Stine Bredal Oftedal, and the first Norwegian player to clinch the award since 2019.

2023 IHF Young Male Player of the Year - Elias Ellefsen á Skipagøtu (Faroe Islands / THW Kiel)

The meteoric ascension of the Faroe Islands, which secured their best-ever results in history at the IHF Men’s Junior World Championship and at the IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in 2023 has been well-documented and Elias Ellefsen á Skipagøtu played a huge role in those performances, directly and indirectly.

Directly, the 21-year-old centre back was selected in the All-Star team on his position and was the joint top scorer at the 2023 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship, with 55 goals. He was also by far the player with the largest number of assists, 48, having a direct hand in 93 of his team’s goals.

Indirectly, Elias Ellefsen á Skipagøtu has been a true model for younger players in the Faroe Islands, being an idol for many of those who are starting their adventure in handball, inspiring a small nation of 54,000 people with a maiden qualification at the EHF EURO in 2024. 

Moreover, Elias Ellefsen á Skipagøtu was the subject of a huge transfer last summer at THW Kiel, as the German powerhouse identified his potential and slotted him into the starting seven, with great matches both in the German Bundesliga and in the EHF Champions League Men.

2023 IHF Young Female Player of the Year – Lena Grandveau (France / Neptunes de Nantes)

Grandveau was largely touted as the next big thing to come from France’s pipeline of talented young players and her potential was also shown in 2022, when she was the starting centre back of the team which took part in the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship. But 2023 signalled the start of something fresh and new for Grandveau, making the big step towards the senior national team.

Not only did Grandveau make her debut at the IHF Women’s World Championship, she also helped France win the title, being instrumental in several matches, but especially in the final against Norway, where she scored five goals, being her side’s top scorer in the match, while also winning the first major title in her career.