14 backs in race for EHF Excellence Awards

C4 9374
EHF / Courtney Gahan

The newly introduced EHF Excellence Awards will honour the best players in each position on the court, plus the best defender, in both men’s and women’s handball for the previous season.

The players nominated for the first ever EHF Excellence Awards were chosen based on their performances in the 2022/23 season, considering both European cup and national team competitions. Players in the EHF Champions League had the chance for automatic nomination based on their inclusion in the Team of the Round, with those nominated the most times in each position automatically included in the EHF Excellence Awards nominees.

Members of the EHF EURO 2022 All-star Team also had automatic inclusion in the nominees list. In addition, one player from the EHF European League was nominated in each position, and national team events such as EHF EURO Qualifiers were also considered.

The vote for the female players is open now until 25 May on the Home of Handball app. The fan vote will account for 25 per cent of the overall result and will be combined with votes from players, coaches and selected media.

So who are the nominees for left and right back? Let’s recap their achievements in 2022/23.


Emily Bölk Germany/FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria

  • 2022/23 has been Bölk’s best EHF Champions League season, as she has netted 82 goals on the path to FTC’s first participation in the EHF FINAL4. Since debuting in the Champions League with Thüringer in 2018/19, she has consistently increased her season score tallies, with a powerful shot and an effective feint her attacking trademarks
  • Bölk’s most memorable performance of the season was in the second-leg quarter-final in the Champions League, when FTC had to overcome a six-goal deficit from the home leg to book their place in Budapest in Metz’s arena. Scoring five goals in the last 23 minutes of the game and three in the critical span in which FTC erased Metz’s aggregate advantage, Bölk was key in the history-making night for the Hungarian club and was named in the Team of the Round
  • Bölk also continued to be one of the most important players in Germany’s line-up, being their second top scorer at the EHF EURO 2022 and also playing an important role in defence

Bruna de Paula Brazil/Metz Handball

  • Ranking among the top 10 scorers in the EHF Champions League as leader for Metz, with 86 goals, lightning-quick Bruna de Paula — one of the most dangerous breakthrough players around — has well and truly made her mark on this season. She was part of the Team of the Round in round 2
  • Regularly scored a high number of goals in Champions League matches, with an 11-goal outing against Rapid Bucuresti her best effort in the season
  • A key player for Brazil as well as the French club, having led her national side to the title at the 2022 South and Central American Championship held in November, where she was top scorer as Brazil recorded a perfect winning run through the event

Djurdjina Jaukovic Montenegro/Brest Bretagne Handball

  • Returning from a season-ending injury in 2021/22, a strong 2022/23 with Brest saw Jaukovic named in the Team of the Round in round 3, when she received the Player of the Match award in the Match of the Week after scoring a huge 12 goals against FTC
  • Also had a big year with Montenegro, highlighted by the side’s bronze medal at the EHF EURO 2022. Jaukovic was second top scorer of the event, with 48 goals — just two behind first-ranked Nora Mørk — and was key for Montenegro as they defeated France in extra time in the 3/4 game
  • Known for her powerful outside shot but also important in defence

Annika Lott Germany/Thüringer HC

  • Nominated based on her superb performances in the EHF European League Women, where she was key as Thüringer HC reached the semi-finals, ultimately placing fourth
  • Lott scored 68 goals since the start of the group phase to nab the season’s top scorer title. Overall, including the qualification matches, she tallied 87
  • A towering left back who struck 12 times across the two matches at the EHF Finals Women in Graz and the youngest nominee for her position, at 23 years old

Cristina Neagu Romania/CSM Bucuresti

  • No left back was selected in the Team of the Round more than Romanian superstar Cristina Neagu, who was named five times in the season, in rounds 4, 9, 10, 11 and 13. She received the Player of the Match award in the Match of the Week twice, in rounds 4 and 7
  • A perennial high scorer with one of the most powerful long-range shots in the game, who also makes a high number of assists. Neagu was the second top scorer of the season and made the fourth highest number of assists up to the end of the quarter-finals (118 goals; 67 assists), when CSM were knocked out by Team Esbjerg. It is her fifth Champions League season overall and third consecutive one passing the 100-goal mark
  • Became the all-time top scorer of the EHF EURO — across both the women’s and men’s event — in November in a personally strong campaign that saw her score 70 goals and be named All-star Team left back for the fourth time

Estelle Nze Minko France/Györi Audi ETO KC

  • Nominated based on yet another great year of performances for Györ and France Nze Minko was named Player of the Match in the Match of the Week for round 14
  • Stands out as a key attacker for Hungarian powerhouse Györ, which is no mean feat considering the club’s line-up, having scored 62 goals in the EHF Champions League this season. Has an important role setting up attacks and using her speed to pressure defence along with goal scoring
  • A consistently important player in the French national team, top scoring for the side in three matches at the EHF EURO 2022, where France placed fourth

Jamina Roberts SWE / Vipers Kristiansand

  • Roberts has been enjoying the best form of her career, playing with defending EHF Champions League title holders Vipers Kristiansand this season and contributing 68 goals to their campaign to reach the EHF FINAL4. She was also Sweden’s second top scorer at the EHF EURO 2022, with 33 goals
  • Included in the Team of the Round in round 12 of the Champions League and had another particularly strong performance in round 7 when she scored nine goals against Banik Most
  • Became the most capped player for Sweden at the EHF EURO when she reached 48 matches in the competition at the end of the 2022 edition, as the Scandinavian side clinched fifth place. She was named Swedish Female Player of the Year for 2022

Expert’s view: A great mix of left backs feature here, with everything from long-range hammer goals to speedy breakthroughs or a mix of both represented. There are also several history makers within this list — players who have cemented their names into their national or club team’s records with their role this season. With such a strong selection to choose from, perhaps the choice for number one has to come down to the x factor — like who has delivered in crunchtime — and what special history the left backs have achieved in 2022/23 aside from season goal tallies or medals.


Laura Flippes France/Paris 92

  • Nominated based on her form in the EHF European League and for France. She scored 26 goals for Paris 92 in the European cup competition
  • Flippes has become an important part of the back court for the current Olympic title holders, after initially joining the squad as a wing
  • A great all-rounder who had the third highest playing time for France at the EHF EURO 2022, demonstrating her importance in both attack and defence. She scored 17 goals and had the second highest shooting accuracy in her team as France secured fourth place at the event

Ana Gros Slovenia/Györi Audi ETO KC

  • Returned to Györ after previously playing for the Hungarian side 10 years before and is the team’s top scorer in the EHF Champions League, with 84 goals. She has also made the second highest number of assists for Györ, with 34, but is primarily known for her unrivalled ability to shoot from long distances
  • Chosen as part of the Team of the Round of the Champions League in rounds 1, 7, 12 and the second-leg quarter-finals and scored over eight goals in six of the matches in the season so far. She reached double digits twice, scoring 10 in one group phase game and in the second-leg quarter-final
  • Had the EHF EURO campaign of her career on home ground in November. She not only ranked in 10th position on the top scorer and top assists charts as she led the side to their best ever ranking, but became the all-time top scorer for Slovenia — a deserved milestone for an icon of her national team, whose international career is still far from over

Dione Housheer — Netherlands/Odense Håndbold

  • Selected as part of the Team of the Round in round 2, 8 and the first leg of the play-offs. Finished the EHF Champions League season as Odense’s second top scorer, with 69 goals
  • A creative back who contributes a lot aside from goals, reflected in her seventh position on the Champions League season’s top assists ranking (59) and her inclusion in the list of most blocks in 2022/23
  • At the age of 23, is already a valuable player for Netherlands, and has been thrust more into the spotlight in recent years due to injuries and pregnancies in the team

Katrin Klujber — Hungary/FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria

  • Always a high scorer but currently in her best EHF Champions League season yet, having passed the 100-goal mark for the first time to be FTC’s top scorer and playing a vital role in their historic qualification for the EHF FINAL4 as an important attacking specialist
  • Chosen as one of the Team of the Round in rounds 6, 9, 11 and 14. Klujber reached double digits in her individual goal tally in no less than four matches, with 12 against Krim in round 4 the standout
  • One of the most important players in the Hungary team, leading her side as their top scorer at the EHF EURO 2022 — ninth on the top scorer chart with 38 goals — and earning a place in the event’s All-star Team

Nora Mørk — Norway/Team Esbjerg

  • A fast and highly unpredictable attacking specialist, Mørk is always a danger with the ball. She confirmed that off the bat with Esbjerg, scoring 13 goals in their EHF Champions League season opener, setting her on the path to being the team’s third top scorer in the Champions League season
  • In November, Mørk won her fifth EHF EURO with Norway. She is nominated for the Excellence Awards based on her top scorer title from the EURO — the third in this competition in her career
  • Although she is known mainly for her scoring ability, Mørk has also contributed a high number of assists for Esbjerg this season, with 55, placing her 10th on that overall list for 2022/23. She was named in the Team of the Round in the first-leg quarter-finals

Louise Vinter Burgaard Denmark/Metz Handball

  • Louise Burgaard has gone from strength to strength in recent years, playing an important role in both attack and defence for her club Metz as well as the Danish national team. For Metz, she scored 30 goals in the EHF Champions League 2022/23
  • Burgaard was Denmark’s top scorer in the final of the EHF EURO 2022, to which they returned after an 18-year wait. The silver medal was the women’s national team’s first in the EURO since 2004
  • Burgaard is nominated based on her strong all-round performances for both Metz and Denmark

Anna Vyakhireva Russia/Vipers Kristiansand

  • Vyakhireva joined the list of nominees after being named Player of the Match for the round 11 Match of the Week and being selected in the Team of the Round of round 5, 10 and 13
  • Having joined defending Champions League title holders Vipers ahead of this season, Vyakhireva has adapted seamlessly, scoring the second highest number of goals for the side (73) and making 76 assists, which puts her second on the overall season chart for that statistic
  • A highly intelligent and unique player with great breakthroughs and strong leadership in attack, as well as the ability to unleash a surprise long-range shot

Expert’s view: What is most important for a right back? The nominees certainly deliver plenty to think about. Several are known for their shooting abilities and regularly feature on top scorer lists, but also add a strong ability to set up attacks and create goal chances for their teammates. Yet the strongest shooters and playmakers on this list do not play at both ends of the court, bringing others who do also contribute in defence to the fore. No doubt there is plenty of competition on the right back, and each person’s favourite will depend on their personal preferences for what a player on this position needs to contribute.

Latest news

More News