Of course, Juri Knorr will be the focus again on Tuesday. When the handball players from Rhein-Neckar Löwen host Sporting Lisbon in the quarter-final first leg, it could be the much-discussed national player’s last European League appearance in front of a home crowd.

In the coming season, the Mannheimers, who crashed in the Bundesliga, will only be traveling throughout Germany. And in the summer of 2025, Knorr will leave the two-time cup winner – probably for Denmark.

Since his brilliant World Cup appearances last year, the 23-year-old playmaker has been the figurehead of German handball. Bearer of hope, figurehead, crowd favorite. The expectations are high. The pressure is correspondingly great. If the DHB team wins, Knorr is the hero. If Knorr’s performance fails, the introverted ball distributor will receive merciless criticism.

Bundesliga loses its flagship

Too much for the shy boy from the north who just wants to play handball? “The pressure (…) is too great for him, the way he wants to live his life,” ex-national player Stefan Kretzschmar suspected.

According to reports, Knorr is moving to the top Danish club Aalborg Handbold, which will be looked after by former Flensburg coach Maik Machulla from summer onwards. Less attention, fewer league games, closer to the family and still games in the premier class are arguments in favor of a change.

Many experts interpret the departure as an escape from the spotlight. “I can’t say much about the reasons for my decision at the moment. But I will do so as soon as possible,” said Knorr.

Self-critical, shy, down-to-earth

The Bundesliga is losing its most prominent player in Knorr. Nobody writes as many autographs as the shy Flensburg native. Nobody needs to take so many selfies. “Of course I’m happy that the attention has increased. But it’s also been a bit much in the last few months. I’m not the type of person who completely enjoys it,” Knorr said around the home European Championships in January.

The down-to-earth backcourt player is not a loudspeaker. Knorr speaks quietly and is extremely self-critical. He chooses his words carefully. After the European Championship defeat against Croatia, he apologized to the audience for his performance, completely dejected.

Sports psychologist warns of health consequences

Sports psychologist Jürgen Walter knows that introverted athletes tend to have more difficulty freeing themselves from pressure. “They are more inward-looking, they question more, they reflect more and therefore get into brooding more easily,” said the expert from the German Press Agency.

However, Walter’s experiences show that the pressure is largely self-inflicted. “Every athlete decides for themselves how calmly they deal with mistakes or setbacks.” Walter appealed to athletes to make themselves mentally strong. “Self-praise is right. When I see the positive in the matter, it leads to a reduction in pressure. The joy of success must always outweigh the fear of failure.”

Gidsel: Pressure in Denmark no less

Only the world-class handball player knows how much pressure Knorr really feels and what reasons are decisive for the change. But it is clear that the change is not easy for him. “I know that this decision will end a very special chapter in my career,” he wrote on Instagram. But things couldn’t get much easier in Aalborg. “Because in Denmark handball is the number 1 sport and the pressure is no less,” said world handball player Mathias Gidsel.