Coach of the German National Handball Team (1997 – 2011)
Handball World Champion as a player (1978) and coach (2007)
Heiner Brand (born in 1952) was during his time as a player already one of the most respected and successful figures in international handball. As a coach, he took over the German national team in 1996 at its nadir, subsequently leading it to victory in, among other competitions, the European Championships, the Handball World Cup and the 2007 World Championships. The team came fourth in the 2008 European Championships.
Seven years old when he donned the Gummersbach jersey for the first time in 1959, he remained loyal to the club during his over 25-year career. He grew into a first-rate player and an excellent captain. He was not only a team figurehead, but also left a decisive and indelible mark on German handball during an entire decade. With his team, he won the German Championships several times as well as the DHB Cup, European Cup and the Super Cup. He was world champion in 1979 with the national team, which beat the Soviet Union in the final. As a player, this 1.93 m tall model athlete was always known as an uncompromising fighter. For former team manager Vlado Stenzel, he is simply "the best defensive player of all time".
He launched his coaching career at VfL Gummersbach by winning the 1988 championship, followed by a second title win in 1991. During his one-year interlude at SG Wallau-Massenheim, he won both the championship and the cup.
Brand took over the national team at rock bottom and embraced the difficult challenge with great commitment, focusing mainly on the "power of verbal motivation" and clearly defined goals. He quickly identified mental weakness as the culprit. The ensuing success proved him right – the Germans were sensationally victorious in the 1998 Super Cup against France and regained their place as one of the leading teams in the world. Even after setbacks, the "Beckenbauer of handball" never lost confidence in his team, which went on to reach the finals of several important tournaments. Brand ended his career as coach of the German national team in June 2011.
The business graduate who was meant to take over his father’s insurance agency has received several awards for his outstanding sporting achievements: Brand was voted coach of the year seven times and awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2007. Sport defines his life – although this successful coach stresses that he always prioritizes team success over his own personal triumphs.