I will blossom again at Veszprém, says IlićArticle
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Serbian left back optimistic about new club’s chances of making an immediate impact in Europe

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I will blossom again at Veszprém, says Ilić

News that Serbia’s prolific left back Momir Ilić was leaving German title holders and former VELUX EHF Champions League winners THW Kiel to join Hungarian giants Veszprém had sent handball shockwaves throughout Europe earlier this year.

Ilić, who steered his country to their first handball medal as independent nation at EHF EURO 2012, when they finished runners-up on home soil, capped yet another excellent season at Kiel with a Bundesliga and cup double.

Chances of a perfect treble were ruined by a 33:39 semi-final defeat at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 by eventual winners Hamburg, who went on to win the trophy while Kiel finished fourth after being edged by Vive Targi Kielce in the third-place match.

In an exclusive interview to ehfCL.com, Ilić recapped four memorable and trophy-laden years at Kiel and offered an insight into what lies in store at Veszprem, where the 31-year old sharpshooter expects to carry on where he left off in Germany.

Priority is to return to Cologne with his new club

"When I negotiated my move to Veszprém, one of the priorities was to make sure that I am joining a team with the highest ambitions," he said.

"They have been the top Hungarian club for a while and hence they have invested a considerable amount of resources into making an impact in the Champions League, which is why I am delighted to have become a part of such an ambitious project," he added.

"Having spent four wonderful years at THW Kiel, which is the best and most organised club in the world, I have now moved to a similar outfit and deep down I know I made the right decision. I am sure I will have a good career at Veszprém."

"Our ambition is to reach the FINAL4 in my first season at the club and I am confident we can do it because Veszprém came very close to knocking out my former club, Kiel, in last season’s competition. They gave us a good run for our money and we only swung the tie our way thanks to raw individual talent.“

A mixed blessing

Ilić acknowledged it would take plenty of hard work for Veszprém to attain the giddy heights that Kiel had made look so ordinary for their army of fans, adding he was convinced they had plenty to look forward to even after a superb generation makes way for newcommers. But he also conceded Kiel had missed the opportunity to win their third successive Champions League title, their domestic domination turning out to be a mixed blessing.

"We won the Bundesliga and the German cup very early and hit top form too soon, hence we were not able to keep it up for the most important tournament of the season, the FINAL4. We were very poor against HSV Hamburg in the semi-finals and it cost us dearly,“ he said.  

Transition of Kiel is set to be smooth

"Still, I think Kiel have a bright future. Some of us have left to join other teams but that will not change the club’s stature or its chances of staying in the top of the Bundesliga and Europe, because Kiel is an institution."

"New players, younger but tried and tested, will arive to fill the void and although they might take some time to blend in, I think the tranisition will be smooth even if there is a temporary change in the balance of power. Kiel will always be in contention for all the major trophies."

TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br