Two trophies, two emotions, two storiesArticle
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FEATURE: Igor Karacic was awarded MVP of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2019, while Alex Dujshebaev finished as the season’s top scorer, with 99 goals

Two trophies, two emotions, two stories

The 2019 edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 saw many different stories written and histories made – including two premieres in the VELUX EHF Champions League: Alex Dujshebaev is the first Spaniard to finish as top scorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League, and Igor Karacic is the first Croatian to be named MVP of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Karacic succeeds Argentinian Diego Simonet, who steered Montpellier to the trophy in 2018.

“This is the happiest and the saddest day in my life. I feel so emotional. It would have been so great if this Vardar story would continue. I was so sad in the locker room, that this was my last match for this great club,” said Karacic, who was also part of the SEHA – Gazprom League 2018/19 All-Star-Team, winning the title with Vardar thanks to a victory in the final against Zagreb in Brest.

But for Karacic, the significance of the MVP award is not so high: “This trophy doesn’t mean anything to me – the winners’ trophy, which I won with this team, with these great players, means everything to me. I am so proud that we made it again. Our major goal since the start of the season was to qualify for Cologne. When we were here, we only wanted to enjoy the matches. We were the underdogs without pressure. Now I am only proud and happy for my teammates.” 

Karacic will join Kielce from the next season on. With the Polish champions, he will be a teammate of Alex Dujshebaev, who previously played for Vardar and won the trophy in 2017, before he moved to the club where his father Talant is coach. 

By scoring 99 goals, including 11 at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2019, he became top scorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League season 2018/19, leaving Vardar’s Dainis Kristopans (94 goals) and Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s Andy Schmid, with 91, behind. Though many Spanish clubs have won the Champions League before, Dujshebaev is the first Spaniard to finish the season as top scorer.

“I am proud to be top scorer. Of course I would be more proud if we would have the trophy, but that’s sport,” said the right back and EHF EURO 2018 champion. “We are disappointed about the two defeats here in Cologne, but we can learn a lot from those two matches. We hope to return to Cologne.”

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg