Milosavljev: “My teammates are the biggest heroes I know”Article
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INTERVIEW: Dejan Milosavljev has been one of the biggest discoveries of the VELUX EHF Champions League season, and he hopes to end his first year in the top-flight competition the best way possible

Milosavljev: “My teammates are the biggest heroes I know”

23-year-old Serbian goalkeeper DejanMilosavljevarrived in Skopje at the beginning of the season and became the first choice in HC Vardar’s goal overnight. He had big shoes to fill as replacement for Arpad Sterbik, but in his debut VELUX EHF Champions League match Milosavljev showed an excellent eye for the shooters and fast reactions, making breathtaking saves that quickly turned him into one of Vardar’s key players this season. 

“The entire team, and especially goalkeeper coach Dejan Peric, took the burden off my back since he spent a lot of time working with me,” says Milosavljev. “Of course, the trainings and the good collaboration with the best players in the world gave me faith and raised my self-confidence so I can play against everyone. I like to play under pressure and, as the coaches and experienced players say, there are no champions if there is no pressure.” 

Throughout the season, Milosavljev proved instrumental, shutting down Vardar’s opponents in clutch moments. It is no surprise that his name appeared on the list of coaches’ nominations for the VELUX EHF Champions League 2018/19 All-star Team.

What are the main reasons for his incredible performance this season? 

“If you want to be a good goalkeeper, you need to love your position in a way that other people and players do not understand. You will get many unpleasant shots and a lot of pain, but in the end you are happy because you love what you do. I think that this is the most important thing. Everything else is learning and upgrading,” says Milosavljev. 

Milosavljev works alongside Algerian goalkeeper Kalifa Ghedbane. They perfectly complement each other and have led the Macedonian champions to many victories this season. 

“Our cooperation is great as we are peers and we understand each other very well. Dejan Peric rotates us so we can show our best performance. Kalifa is a great goalkeeper and I’m glad that we work in a pair. At the same time, together we are improving ourselves and sharing the time on court.”

“My wish is to become champion in Cologne” 

Vardar faced many obstacles this season, but the players were eager to write new history and, thanks to great teamwork, the Macedonian champions reached the VELUX EHF FINAL4 for the third time in a row.

“The desire for victory and the great quality and experience of the players are Vardar’s trademark.  True heroes are born when they face difficult situations and I can freely say that my teammates are the biggest heroes I know.”

Vardar finished third in the group phase and then had a relatively easy task against Zagreb in the Last 16. However, the home quarter-final against Szeged was the most memorable one for Milosavljev.

“Every game was special for us, but the game against Szeged is something that I will never forget. Our fans brought us an unforgettable experience. There are not proper words to describe the feeling because it was more than sport.”

Last year, Vardar lost in the semi-finals at the VELUX FINAL4. This year, the former champions aim to do better. Their obstacles on the path to the final are the old acquaintances Barça Lassa, against whom Vardar lost twice in the group phase. The pressure is even higher for Milosavljev, since it will be his debut at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 tournament.

“The EHF FINAL4 is the dream of every handball player and I’m very happy that I will take part in this event and see how everything looks,” says Milosavljev. 

“Cologne has shown that favourites don’t always win. I think that there are many factors that decide who will finish in the top position. I hope that we will all be fit and ready to give our best on the court. We play against the team that plays perfectly and won everything, but we will fight. My final wish for this season is to become champion in Cologne.”

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / cg