Thanks for everything!
February 20, 2017
One of the greatest players in the history of women´s handball calls it quits. Rikke Skov will not return to the court after her maternity leave.
By Peter Bruun
An outstanding and brilliant career has reached the end.
One of the best ever in women´s handball is about to hang up her uniform for good. Rikke Skov will not return to the handball court again after maternity leave.
When she announced her pregnancy back in the fall of last year, she stated that she still wanted to play handball, but in the meantime she has changed her mind. At the age of 36, she does not feel up to it anymore, she says. It’s time to say good-bye to a fantastic left-back, playmaker and defender. One of the greatest players we ever saw.
She may not be in the league of Anja Andersen. No one is – she certainly does not have Miss Andersen´s personality either. However, she definitely ranks alongside stars like Bojana Popovic, Cecilie Leganger, Anita Görbicz and Cristina Neagu.
Especially, Bojana Popovic regrets Rikke Skov´s farewell.
“We could have won the Champions League 10 times in a row!” Popovic, who played with Skov in Viborg from 2007 to 2010, told Danish radio.
Maybe this would have been the case, if Popovic had not left Viborg and Denmark for personal reasons in 2010.
For sure, Skov and Popovic formed a fantastic duo in Viborg – once internal rivalry and jealousy issues had been dealt with.
Viborg were never better than in 2010, when the club won the Champions League for a third time and the second time in succession, thanks to the excellent teamwork between Skov and Popovic.
Never went for the money
However, it was not only her skills on the handball court that made Rikke Skov stand out.
As one of the very, very few top athletes these days, she stayed loyal to her club – Viborg HK – through her entire career – from the age of 14 until now.
Given her qualities on the pitch, she could have made much more money in some foreign club. The offers were there, of course, but Rikke Skov was never tempted.
These days people may smile or even laugh at this kind of loyalty to one club and consider it a sentimental remnant of an era long gone by.
All right, I will admit that I am sentimental – at least in this respect. I admire a person who shows such a heart for one club and who is driven by local patriotism rather then money.
Rikke Skov never got tired of talking about her “green heart”, and no matter if one likes Viborg HK or not – by the way I have no particular feelings for or against the club – I find her attitude commendable.
Speaks her mind
Rikke Skov has always been a dream for any journalist, because she always spoke her mind.
She said what she thought and felt, and in many ways she has been the exception to the rule, established by today’s athletes who play it safe, trying to avoid controversy at any cost while providing stereotypical answers.
She also did away with the myth of top athletes not being interested in the world around them. Besides her career in handball, she found time to engage in politics and ran to become a member of Viborg’s city council for the Social Democratic party.
Taking a stand, defending a viewpoint and work for it, is what make her such an outstanding individual. Unfortunately, it’s not so common as mentioned before with some exceptions.
Her personal life has been colorful as well and not free of controversy when she lived in a relationship (from 2000 to 2011) with her national teammate, Lotte Kjærskou, who gave birth to her first two children. Now, she is expecting her first child with her male companion.
You made us dream
However, it were her performances on the handball court that we will always remember.
One Olympic gold medal, three Champions League titles and 10 Danish championships only begin to tell the story of an extraordinary career.
Rikke Skov – a brilliant playmaker, a versatile, hard shooting back-court player, a tough and uncompromising defender, a true leader on and off the court.
Unfortunately, her farewell in the Danish national team- she represented her country 152 times – did not turn out the way it should have been.
After her retirement from Team Denmark, she agreed to a comeback when Klavs Bruun Jørgensen took over as national coach in 2015.
At the World Championship, in December 2015 on home ground, Bruun Jørgensen declared Skov as the leader of the squad. However, she only spent time on the pitch when Denmark was playing defense – and even then not all the time.
Given such circumstances, it is hard to be a leader of anything, and Skov´s last appearance in the national team ended just as disappointing as it did for the rest of her teammates.
But let us remember her for all the great memories and thrilling moments she gave handball fans in Denmark and all over the world.
Some of you probably still remember a banner of Liverpool’s football fans, just a few years ago. It read: “Make us dream!”
You made us dream, Rikke Skov.
Thank you for everything.