28 Mar. 2022
After three intense weeks of voting, where five candidates for each of the four awards amassed impressive numbers from fans, the IHF announces the recipients of the 2021 IHF World Players of the Year and the 2021 IHF World Coaches of the Year awards.
Two Danish goalkeepers have scooped the 2021 awards for IHF World Player of the Year – Niklas Landin Jacobsen and Sandra Toft – while the IHF World Coaches of the Year awards were swept by Danish masterminds Nikolaj Jacobsen and Jesper Jensen.
While Landin became the first-ever male player to claim the award in two consecutive editions, it is the first time being named IHF World Player of the Year for Toft, who follows into Anja Andersen’s footsteps, as the creative centre back won Denmark’s last Female World Player of the Year award in 1997.
Fans from all continents have participated in the voting, coming from at least 33 countries*.
2021 IHF Male Player of the Year – Niklas Landin Jacobsen – Denmark / THW Kiel
Players like Talant Dujshebaev, Ivano Balic, Nikola Karabatic and Mikkel Hansen had previously won the trophy multiple times, but none of them secured the IHF Male World Player of the Year trophy in consecutive editions. History has been written, as Landin secured 24.12% of the votes, just a slight margin higher than second-placed Jim Gottfridsson, who mustered 23.87%.
Landin had a superb 2021, both at club level and with the national team. The goalkeeper won the gold medal at the IHF Men’s World Championship and silver at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, while he also was selected as the best goalkeeper in the EHF Champions League Men starring for THW Kiel, the German champions.
2021 IHF Female Player of the Year – Sandra Toft – Denmark / Brest Bretagne Handball
For the past five years, Sandra Toft has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the world, being selected in the All-star Team of the IHF Women’s World Championship in 2021 and at the EHF EUROs in 2016 and 2020. She was also instrumental in helping Denmark getting back on the podium in a major tournament, saving the largest number of shots at Spain 2021 (80) with an outstanding 43% saving efficiency.
At club level, Toft was also great for Brest Bretagne Handball, winning the French domestic league for the first time in nine years, while also recording the best saving efficiency in the competition, a superb 39%. The Danish goalkeeper had a great outing in the EHF Champions League Women, where she helped Brest qualify for the EHF FINAL4 for the first time in history, only to lose the final against Vipers Kristiansand.
With 30.96% of the votes, Toft became only the second goalkeeper in history to secure the IHF Female World Player of the Year award after Norway’s Cecilie Leganger wrote history in 2001, exactly 20 years ago.
2021 IHF World Coach of the Year – Male team(s) – Nikolaj Jacobsen – Denmark
Before Jacobsen was named the Denmark men’s senior team coach in 2017, the Scandinavian powerhouse had never won the IHF Men’s World Championship title. The former left wing transformed his side into a true team, one that remained unbeaten both at Germany/Denmark 2019 and at Egypt 2021, clinching the world title twice. Moreover, Jacobsen led his team to a silver medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, played in the summer of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore improving his medal tally at major tournaments to four.
Before Jacobsen swept the award in 2019 and 2021, only one other Danish coach – Ulrik Wilbek – secured the award. But an amazing 2021, which featured 24 wins and only four losses in all the games played by Denmark, helped the 1993 and 1999 Danish Player of the Year to write history once again, as he collected 51.2% of the votes.
2021 IHF World Coach of the Year – Female team(s) – Jesper Jensen – Denmark / Team Esbjerg
Denmark women’s senior national team had not won a medal at a major tournament in eight years before they claimed bronze at the 2021 IHF Women’s World Championship. They got close at the Women’s EHF EURO 2020, when they finished fourth, and the common denominator in the Scandinavian’s side comeback to the best teams in the world is coach Jesper Jensen, who was able to secure 35.4% of the votes in the voting for the 2021 IHF World Coach of the Year – Female team(s).
A former centre back, who won the bronze medal with Denmark at the 2007 IHF Men’s World Championship in Germany, Jensen was named the Denmark women’s senior national coach in 2020, sharing his time between the national team and Team Esbjerg, where he already had won two titles and the Women’s EHF Cup. 2021 has been the year where Jensen established his position as one of the best coaches in women’s handball, after leading Team Esbjerg to their best-ever unbeaten streak in the EHF Champions League Women, shaping the Danish side into a contender in the premium European club competition.
*Not all fans registered their country