Anja Andersen

Anja Andersen bigraphy, stories - Handball player

Anja Andersen : biography

15 February 1969 –

Anja Andersen (born February 15, 1969 in Odense, Denmark) is a female former handball player and currently coach.


Anja Andersen is known for both her skills as an offensive player, her strong temper and courage to make dramatic scenes and daring tricks during a match. She was an important part of the renaissance in Danish handball during the 1990s. Her strong temper and impressive skills afforded everybody an opinion and after the first gold medal at the European championship in 1994 the national team affectionately earned the nickname "the iron ladies" and status of national sports heroes.

Although the national handball team of the 1990s had many profiles it is undisputed that Anja Andersen was the most prolific and controversial. Although nobody questioned her skills, her temper, causing numerous expulsions from high profile matches, was an issue of some debate. At the 1996 Olympics the coach, Ulrik Wilbek, briefly banned her from the team due to disputes of playing style and behavior on the floor. She has played 133 matches for the Danish national handball team for women and has scored 726 goals.

It was also Anja Andersen who introduced handball to true showmanship. Greatly influenced by basketball and notably the Harlem Globetrotters she invented a playing style aimed at the audience rather than the opposing team. After her retirement as an active player she organized a "dream team" of the best female handball players in 2000 and 2001 which played a selected Danish team. The "dream team" matches was a success but they stopped when Anja Andersen could no longer play actively herself.

Because of a heart defect, Andersen stopped her player career in 1999.


During her active career as a handball player she won numerous tournaments:

  • 1987 World Junior Championship silver medalist
  • 1992 Norwegian League champion with Bækkelaget
  • 1993 World Women’s Handball Championship silver medalist
  • 1994 European Women’s Handball Championship gold medalist
  • 1995 World Women’s Handball Championship bronze medalist
  • 1996 Summer Olympics gold medalist
  • 1996 European Women’s Handball Championship gold medalist
  • 1997 World Women’s Handball Championship gold medalist
  • 1997 IHF World Player of the Year player (As of 2012 she is still the only Danish female handball player to win this title, and until 1 March 2012, where Mikkel Hansen won the title, she was the only one, male or female.)

Her career as a coach has also yielded results:

  • 2003, 2005 and 2007 winner of the Danish Women’s Handball League with Slagelse
  • 2004, 2005, 2007 winner of EHF Women’s Champions League with same Slagelse


Anja Andersen immediately started coaching the Danish Women’s Handball League club Slagelse. She first helped the team reach the top league and later on win the Champions League three times, in 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2006/07. In 2006 she also coached the national team of Serbia.

In 2008, she left Slagelse for FCK Håndbold. In 2010, she left FCK Håndbold because the club dissolved and decided to take a break until to coach a new team.

In February 2011, Anja Andersen became the new coach of Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea. The Romanian club hired her in the attempt of winning the Champions League.

In March 2011, after less than two months of coaching she was fired because of poor results, losing two matches from a total of four on the bench of Oltchim in the main round of Champions League.