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Top 10 best handball players of all time

When discussing the best handball players of all time, certain names inevitably rise to the forefront, representing unparalleled talent, dedication, and influence in the sport. These players have not only achieved remarkable success individually but have also elevated their teams to new heights, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of handball. This list celebrates the extraordinary careers of those who have shaped the game with their skill, leadership, and passion, ensuring their place in the annals of handball history. Join bestsoccertips as we explore the journey of these legendary athletes who have earned their place among the greatest athletes of all time.

Top 10 Greatest Handball Players of All Time

10. Veselin Vujović

Veselin Vujović is not just a name; it’s a legacy that echoes through the annals of handball history. Born in the rich sporting culture of Cetinje on January 18, 1961, Vujović transcended ordinary limits to become an outstanding icon of handball. His journey from the historic courts of Yugoslavia to the pinnacle of international acclaim is a testament to his unparalleled skill, enduring passion, and unwavering dedication to the sport.

Best handball players of all time: Veselin Vujović
Best handball players of all time: Veselin Vujović

Representing top clubs like RK Metaloplastika and Barcelona, Vujović not only showcased his remarkable talent as a left-back but also set a golden standard for sportsmanship and achievement. His groundbreaking recognition as the first recipient of the International Handball Federation (IHF) World Player of the Year award in 1984 highlighted his tremendous impact both on and off the court. Vujović’s illustrious career, adorned with Olympic glory and European triumphs, continues to inspire aspiring athletes globally.

Currently, as the visionary head coach of the Iran national team, Vujović is shaping the future of handball, nurturing talent, and spreading the excitement of the sport to new territories. His story is not just about personal achievements but serves as a beacon for those who dare to dream big and strive relentlessly to achieve their goals.

9. Niklas Landin

Niklas Landin, a talented Danish player and master of the handball court, has not only etched his name into the chronicles of handball but has also redefined the role of the goalkeeper. Winning the Danish Handball Player of the Year award not once but twice, Landin’s talent far exceeds the conventional expectations of a goalkeeper.

Best female handball players: Niklas Landin
Best female handball players: Niklas Landin

His tenure at THW Kiel is truly legendary, marked by a resounding victory in the EHF Champions League in 2020. Landin’s unmatched reflexes, exceptional shot-stopping skills, and commanding presence in the goal have not only elevated him to the ranks of the greatest handball players but also highlighted the often-underappreciated art of goalkeeping. His illustrious career stands as a testament to his status as one of the top goalkeepers in the world and a true icon in the sport of handball.

8. Ólafur Stefansson

Born in the heart of Reykjavík, Iceland, on July 3, 1973, Ólafur Stefánsson has undeniably etched his name into the annals of handball as a legend of the sport. His journey from a clever child making a ball out of socks to becoming the captain of both Valur and the Icelandic men’s national handball team is a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion spanning nearly three decades. Stefánsson’s career is filled with achievements that showcase his talent and commitment, most notably a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and a bronze at the 2010 European Championship, making him one of the most celebrated sports figures globally.

Top 10 best handball players of all time: Ólafur Stefansson
Top 10 best handball players of all time: Ólafur Stefansson

His tenure with top European clubs further solidified his status, bringing unparalleled success and elevating the standards of the game wherever he went. Beyond the impressive statistics and numerous awards, Stefánsson’s true legacy lies in his ability to inspire and shape the future of handball, serving as a beacon of excellence for aspiring athletes worldwide.

Transitioning to coaching has allowed him to continue impacting the sport, perpetuating a cycle of inspiration and success. Ólafur Stefánsson is not just an extraordinary athlete; he is a symbol of resilience, excellence, and the indomitable spirit of handball, leaving an indelible mark that continues to inspire and captivate fans globally.

7. Bernhard Kempa

Bernhard Kempa, a name synonymous with handball excellence, stands tall among the legends of the sport, securing his place as one of the top 10 handball players of all time. Born in 1920 in what is now Opole, Poland, Kempa’s journey to greatness was marked by his pivotal role in leading Germany to world championship titles in 1952 and 1955.

His exceptional skills shone brightly as he led Frisch Auf Göppingen to victory, securing the German championship in hall handball in 1955 and on the field in 1957. Kempa’s influence extended beyond the court as he guided Göppingen to five indoor handball championship victories as a coach from 1958 to 1970, including the memorable Europapokal win in 1960.

World's best handball players: Bernhard Kempa
World’s best handball players: Bernhard Kempa

Kempa’s legacy is immortalized in the innovative “Kempa trick,” a testament to his creative genius on the court. This iconic move, where a player leaps into the circle to catch and throw the ball mid-air, revolutionized handball tactics. Furthermore, his contributions to the sport are celebrated through the Kempa brand, a lasting tribute to his enduring impact. Kempa’s exceptional contributions were fittingly recognized with his induction into the German Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. Leaving a legacy that transcends the sport, Kempa passed away in 2017 at the age of 96, his name forever etched in the chronicles of handball.

6. Joachim Deckarm

Joachim Deckarm, a legend born on January 19, 1954, in Saarbrücken, took the handball world by storm with his unparalleled talent. As a key player for VfL Gummersbach and the German national team, Deckarm redefined excellence, establishing himself as the unmatched best player on the global stage during his peak.

His illustrious career was marked by three German championships and two European team championships, culminating in leading West Germany to victory at the first World Handball Championship in 1978. However, in a tragic twist of fate in 1979, a catastrophic accident on the Eurocup court ended his rising career, leaving him to grapple with physical limitations.

Best female handball players of all time: Joachim Deckarm
Best female handball players of all time: Joachim Deckarm

But Deckarm’s indomitable spirit shone through the darkness of adversity; his journey of recovery, marked by regained mobility and unwavering determination, continues to inspire. His life, a testament to resilience and enduring friendships, especially with the player involved in the accident, remains a legacy that transcends the sport.

5. Mikkel Hansen

Mikkel Hansen is a towering figure in the handball world, his name synonymous with excellence and unparalleled skill. From his early days in Helsingør, Denmark, under the guidance of his Olympic athlete father, Flemming Hansen, Mikkel was destined for greatness. His dedication and exceptional skills not only secured him a place among handball legends but also elevated Denmark to unprecedented heights, winning their first Olympic gold in 2016 and dominating the World Championship in 2019. Hansen’s innate talent on the court symbolizes leadership and brilliance, inspiring teammates and fans alike.

Hansen’s influence extends beyond national victories; his club career is equally illustrious, playing pivotal roles for teams such as GOG, FC Barcelona Handbol, AG København, and Paris Saint-Germain Handball. His tactical versatility, excelling as both a left-back and center-back, has been key to his team’s success, earning numerous league championships and triumphs in the EHF Champions League. Hansen is not just a player; he is a handball maestro whose contributions have reshaped the sport.

Best handball players of all time: Mikkel Hansen
Best handball players of all time: Mikkel Hansen

Beyond team achievements, Hansen’s accolades further highlight his legendary status. Being crowned IHF World Player of the Year three times (2011, 2015, 2018) underscores his enduring excellence and influence in the sport. Hansen’s playing style, characterized by innovation and a relentless pursuit of greatness, has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest handball players of all time.

Moreover, Mikkel Hansen’s impact transcends the sport’s boundaries. Off the court, he leverages his stature to promote positive change, from anti-bullying initiatives to creating training facilities for the next generation of handball stars. With a net worth of $44 million and a significant social media following, Hansen is not just a sports icon; he is a visionary shaping the future of handball, both on and off the court.

4. Talant Dujshebaev

Talant Dujshebaev, hailing from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, is a prominent figure in the world of handball, whose career epitomizes relentless excellence. Dujshebaev’s sporting odyssey is a remarkable fusion of skill, strategy, and triumph, cementing his status as both a legendary player and coach. From representing teams spanning from the Soviet Union to Spain, his career sparkles with Olympic brilliance, including a coveted gold in Barcelona 1992, and bronzes in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. Moreover, he clinched gold at the 1993 World Championship and multiple European medals, underscoring his enduring impact on handball’s global stage.

Best female handball players: Talant Dujshebaev
Best female handball players: Talant Dujshebaev

His domestic victories are equally impressive, with numerous Spanish Championship titles and European triumphs, both as a player and a coach. Dujshebaev’s philosophy of discipline, teamwork, and strategic insight has not only shaped his career but also his approach to coaching, where he emphasizes consistency over sporadic bursts of brilliance. During his coaching tenure, he achieved notable milestones, notably guiding Industria Kielce to a Champions League triumph, demonstrating his adeptness at mentoring and propelling the next wave of handball stars.

Beyond the accolades, Dujshebaev has played a role in popularizing handball globally, making him a central figure in elevating the sport’s prestige. His dedication to nurturing young talent and his strategic acumen have cemented his legacy as a key architect for the sport’s future. Talant Dujshebaev is not just a handball icon; he is a visionary shaping the essence of the game.

3. Magnus Wislander

Magnus Wislander, a name synonymous with handball excellence, has redefined the sport with his unparalleled skill and dedication. Born on February 22, 1964, in Sweden, Wislander’s career is a testament to his greatness, spanning decades and earning him the title of one of the sport’s all-time legends.

Nicknamed “The Snake” for his agility and unmatched clever play, he was not only an outstanding scorer but also a formidable defender, making him a dual threat on the court. His international accolades include two gold medals at the World Championships in 1990 and 1999, and an impressive record of four gold medals at the European Championships from 1994 to 2002, along with two Olympic silver medals in 1992 and 1996.

Top 10 best handball players of all time: Magnus Wislander
Top 10 best handball players of all time: Magnus Wislander

His domestic achievements are equally remarkable, with significant contributions to Redbergslids IK and THW Kiel, helping them secure numerous league victories. Wislander’s immense contributions were recognized through multiple awards, most notably being named the IHF World Handball Player of the Century. Despite the controversies in his career, Wislander’s legacy remains untarnished, symbolizing the epitome of handball mastery.

2. Nikola Karabatić

Nikola Karabatić, a handball legend born in 1984 in Niš, Serbia, has transcended the boundaries of the sport to become one of its most iconic figures. With a career marked by an enviable array of titles, Karabatić’s journey in handball is truly legendary. His achievements testify to his unparalleled mastery and influence in the game, boasting three Olympic gold medals, four World Championship gold medals, three European Championship gold medals, and three prestigious IHF World Player of the Year awards.

World's best handball players: Nikola Karabatić
World’s best handball players: Nikola Karabatić

His unparalleled versatility on the court shines through as he adeptly maneuvers across multiple pivotal positions, guiding his team with a charismatic presence that uplifts and captivates fans around the globe. Despite facing adversity, including a controversial match-fixing scandal, Karabatić’s legacy remains untarnished, showcasing his remarkable resilience and unwavering dedication to excellence.

As his playing days near their end, his ambition to retire as the indisputable Greatest of All Time (GOAT) reflects his relentless pursuit of greatness, securing his place in handball history as an enduring icon. Nikola Karabatić ranks second on our list of the top 10 handball players of all time.

1. Ivano Balić

Ivano Balić, the Croatian handball legend, stands among the elite, hailed as one of the greatest players ever to grace the sport. His extraordinary path is defined by astonishing swiftness, unmatched inventiveness, and a captivating charisma that has enthralled global audiences. Balić’s trophy cabinet is overflowing with prestigious accolades, including the 2003 World Championship and the 2004 Olympic gold medal, attesting to his dominance on the international stage.

Best female handball players of all time: Ivano Balić
Best female handball players of all time: Ivano Balić

His unmatched skill earned him the title of the best male handball player in history according to the International Handball Federation (IHF) poll in 2010, along with being the most valuable player in five consecutive major international tournaments and winning the IHF World Player of the Year award twice.

However, Balić’s legacy extends beyond his accolades; his humility in promoting team spirit and his ability to elevate the game for those around him have cemented his status as the “MVP of all MVPs,” leaving an indelible mark on the world of handball.


In conclusion, the best handball players of all time have left an indelible mark on the sport, showcasing exceptional skill, unwavering dedication, and a profound impact both on and off the court. These legends have not only achieved unparalleled success but have also inspired countless fans and aspiring athletes around the world. Their contributions to the game have set a high standard of excellence, ensuring their place in the rich history of handball. As we celebrate their remarkable careers and achievements, we acknowledge the enduring legacy they have created, forever defining what it means to be among the best in handball.

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