05/12/2018

Passing the top-scorer crown: Farkas to Neagu

FEATURE: “I think the throne will be in good hands with Cristina.” The former top scorer of the EHF EURO, Hungarian Agnes Farkas, talks about Cristina Neagu breaking her record

Agnes Farkas, shown here at the EHF EURO 2002, held the all-time top scorer record for 16 years. Mandatory credit © Michael Heuberger

On Monday evening in Brest, a record that had stood for 16 years was broken. Romanian Cristina Neagu passed Hungarian Agnes Farkas on the all-time top scorer ranking at the EHF EURO, after becoming only the second player to reach the 200-goal milestone. For Farkas, seeing the record broken was a bittersweet moment.

“How could it feel? This is the price of progress, because the game has become faster and the game overall changed,” Farkas told ehf-euro.com. “The attack play is different now than it was. There are way more fast break goals than before. It became faster, just like life. And because of all this I’m surprised that my record is only broken now.

“I congratulate her a lot, for achieving this position, and she should wear this top-scorer crown very proudly,” added Farkas. “I think the throne will be in good hands with Cristina.”

“Wherever she is, she’s doing great on court”

Farkas was EHF EURO champion with Hungary in 2000, and also won silver medals at the 2000 Olympic Games and World Championships in 1995 and 2003. Her first EURO medal was bronze in 1998.

Just like Neagu, Farkas was a left back and can therefore see Neagu’s strengths clearly.           

“She’s a very dynamic player. She’s a great left back and also playmaker – wherever she is, she’s doing great on court. She’s very energetic, strong and she usually plays in teams where she has quite a decisive role, where a lot of responsibility is put on her shoulders.

“The teams are expecting solutions from her – like it was back then with me. The left back usually has this role, to finish and decide on the matches,” said Farkas.

“A left back has to have everything in their repertoire – you have to shoot from outside, shoot from the ground. If a left back wants to score a lot of goals she needs to be good at everything. A good left back, if she sees a good trick, she should be able to learn that trick as soon as possible. I always looked at the other players and learned from them. You have to have a good overview on court, and you have to shoot in a very dynamic and very energetic way.

“You have to know where the goalkeeper is and you have to feel the goalkeeper and the goal – and this is what Neagu is very good at. Probably that’s one of the biggest strengths of Neagu, and that was probably one of my biggest strengths back then,” Farkas added.

“The players that I was playing against were probably Cristina's idols”

Coincidentally, Farkas’ EURO win was at the event organised by Romania – and Hungary played the semi-finals and trophy match in Neagu’s birth city, Bucharest. Hungary won the final against Ukraine 32:30 in extra time, after eliminating Romania in a thrilling match, 25:24. At that time, now 30-year-old Neagu was 12.

“The best memory is always the victory. The most interesting or memorable moment was winning the semi-final against Romania, the hosts. It was a big deal to beat the Romania team in Bucharest,” said Farkas. “There were always outstanding players – at least one or two in the Romanian team. Handball is very popular in Romania and you can see that in the results. On a national level it is important for them to have support for women’s handball.

“It might be that Neagu grew up on the Hungarian victory, because she was a child then, and she could see handball players who were probably her idols. The players that I was playing against were probably Cristina's idols.”

Farkas, who was top scorer of the EURO in 1994 and 2002, can see significant developments in the game since her time on court, saying it is much faster now with perhaps a little less focus on strategy in positional attack.

“There is still creativity in it, I see creativity in it. I love to watch and I’m always watching the big championships. I like the girls going crazy on the court,” said Farkas. “I still think it’s a great game and for every young person or young child asking what they should play, I still recommend handball.”

Ahead of Romania’s final preliminary round match in Group D, Neagu’s overall tally stands at 206 goals. Her team’s campaign is far from over, and the left back still has many years on court ahead of her. How far will the new EHF EURO top scorer take her tally in the years to come?

written by Courtney Gahan/jh