01.12.2022  LIQUI MOLY HBL

He came, saw and conquered: Rúnar Sigtryggsson's dream start in Leipzig

He came, saw and conquered - what was once a saying of Julius Caesar fits perfectly to Rúnar Sigtryggsson today. Since the 50-year-old Icelander took over SC DHfK Leipzig, things have been going well for the Saxons, who are already talking about the Sigtryggsson effect. After only four points (two draws and one win) in the first ten games, SC DHfK parted ways with long-time coach André Haber - and then things went very quickly.

Rúnar Sigtryggsson's signing was announced on Tuesday, on Wednesday he flew from Iceland (where he coached the top team Haukar) to Frankfurt, was then chauffeured to Wetzlar - and had less than 24 hours and one training session to get to know his new team. But it was enough: The Icelander celebrated a perfect debut with a 25:24 in Wetzlar.

"The risk was high due to the extremely short preparation, but we took it - and it was worth it. Of course it would have been easier to have my debut against Hamm Westfalen on Sunday, but everything worked out, mainly thanks to an outstanding performance of our goalkeeper Kristian Saeveras,” says Sigtryggsson. The new coach's first home win against Hamm Westfalen followed, then Leipzig also won in Stuttgart and last matchday, the 40:33 win against MT Melsungen was the highest score in Leipzig's Bundesliga history.

"It couldn't have gone better," says Rúnar Sigtryggsson about the clean record with 8:0 points after his first four games: "No one can take these eight points from us anymore." It is his clear advantage that he knows the new club and the LIQUI MOLY HBL very well. In his active career, he played for FRISCH AUF! Göppingen, SG Wallau-Massenheim and ThSV Eisenach, in Eisenach his first (player) coaching station followed. After five years with his home club Akureyri, he returned to Germany, took over EHV Aue for four years, followed by his first division debut at HBW Balingen-Weilstetten and an interim guest appearance in Aue. Since the beginning of the 2022/23 season he has been the coach of European Cup participants Haukar from Hafnarfjördur. And thanks to the concessions of the Icelandic club, SC DHfK Sigtryggsson was able to sign his new contract at short notice. He knows Leipzig so well because he lived there during his time in Aue, attended a few games, established contacts with the Leipzig club management and his son Andri Rúnarsson was trained at the SC DHfK academy.

But what is his secret of success? "I don't want to say too much about it, but we're playing at a faster pace than before, and you can see that from the number of goals." Sigtryggsson's philosophy is flexible, "it always has to suit the team and the players, who are available. In Leipzig the players accepted my philosophy well. And in the end, the philosophy doesn't matter, only the points count anyway," says Sigtryggsson.

The new Leipzig coach was born in Akureyri, the same city as national team coach Alfred Gislason. And like him, he is currently continuing the success story of Icelandic coaches. "As players, we all went through the same school and adopted the national team's playing system. After that, as a coach, there is no such thing as an Icelandic school - as a coach, only success counts. But in Iceland there are many good coaches with Alfred Gislason, Gudmundur Gudmundsson and Dagur Sigurdsson at the top, but there are also less successful ones. It can happen either way.” Still, Sigtryggsson admits that “Icelandic coaches have a good reputation in Germany. I think we're doing our job well."

His contract in Leipzig expires at the end of the season, and the Icelander is not planning any longer at the moment. “During the World Championship break, I will first realize everything that has happened up to that point. So far it has been very quick. And until then we still have four games that we all want to win. But of course, also defeats can happen.” But so far everything has been true to Caesar’s motto “I came, saw and conquered” – and this time has already been formative: “Of course it makes things much easier if you always win.”

Photo: Vogler