Emotional return for MelicArticle
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FEATURE: After a breakthrough season in the VELUX EHF Champions League with Gorenje Velenje, Fahrudin Melic was signed by emerging giants PSG. Now the Montenegrin returns to Slovenia for a crucial clash with his new team

Emotional return for Melic

It will be a very special moment for PSG right wing Fahrudin Melic when he steps on the court at Rdeca Dvorana in Velenje, an arena that was his home for two seasons before he moved to Paris last summer.

"It's been really eye-opening for me actually," he remembers fondly, "because it was the club where a lot of things happened to me for the first time. The first time I played outside Bosnia, first time I reached the Last 16 phase of the Champions League.

“I really took a step forward when I played for Velenje, in a team full of nice guys with a coach that trusted me completely,” said Melic.

59 goals in 12 Champions League games later, he signed for PSG, where the coaches were seduced by "his skills, his speed and his capacity to be clinical when it comes to shooting. When he has to put the ball into the net, he rarely fails,” said coach Philippe Gardent.

"Speaking of taking steps, if moving to Velenje was a huge one, signing for PSG was gigantic," he said, smiling all the way.

Often in the shadow of superstar Luc Abalo, he managed to create his own space, even if he admits all was not very easy from the beginning.

"With PSG, we have a real pressure for results, but I try to keep my head cool, not to think about it too much,” said the 29-year-old.

When we saw him on the verge of tears after three straight misses against Vardar Skopje a couple of weeks ago, you could imagine the pressure was going to his head.

“Not at all, I hate losing and I really was angry with myself. I'm such a perfection freak, that sometimes, it can get a bit too much," he admitted.

All of his teammates confirm that he is one of the most dedicated players in training: "He often stays after the end, shooting by himself, or challenging goalkeepers on penalties," agrees Gardent.

"We need these kinds of players. Not really a big name in the world of handball, but someone we can rely on, who works a lot, someone you can send on the court knowing that he can only bring positive things to the team.”

The Montenegrin looks forward to meeting old friends in Velenje, but told his partners in PSG to be very careful.

"Last year, even though we were far from favourites, we only lost two games at home in the competition, to Kielce and Flensburg.

“And yes, they have different players, yes some of the key guys left, but look at this roster. Stas Skube is one of the best centre backs of the competition and there are a lot of hungry young guys who would dream of making a big team fall,” warned Melic, who knows that PSG have had problems away from home this year.

"When the team in front of us defends hard, we tend to play less collectively and lose ourselves a bit.

“We're probably the favourites, but I know that some of my friends of the opposing side that would love to prove the contrary,” concluded Melic.

TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor