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14.02.2017, 14:47◄ last page     

FEATURE: Daniel Dujshebaev will join Celje’s talent pool for two years before continuing in Kielce, while Blaz Janc transfers to the Champions League title-holders.

Another big name for a small handball city

In 2004, Slovenian side RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko made history by beating SG Flensburg-Handewitt in the final after previously eliminating big names such as Zagreb.

Celje is the smallest town ever home to a Men’s EHF Champions League winner- it has only 40,000 inhabitants. Indeed, with only two million inhabitants, Slovenia the smallest country ever home of a Men’s EHF Champions League winner.

For the past 70 years, handball has been played in Celje. It is one of the rare long-lasting club names in handball. They have won the Slovenian championship 20 times, and for the 22nd time, the club is participating in the EHF Champions League.

The so-called “Brewers” have become famous for being a major talent pool. This is the reason why this club from the little city in the little country can compete with the very best in Europe. The Celje handball school is famous around Europe for producing dozens of world class players.

Of course, there are those from Slovenia: Roman Pungartnik, Uros Zorman, Ales Pajovic, Renato Vugrinec, Dragan Gajic and Gasper Marguc, were born in Celje or started their handball career there.

But in addition to this, RK Celje always had a skill for finding and developing international talents like Siarhei Rutenka, who won his first of six Champions League trophies with Celje, or Sergey Harbok (both players were born in Belarus). The Serbs Dejan Peric, Dragan Skrbic and Nemanja Zelenovic also played at Celje- the list goes on.

The number of top clubs, which have contracted former Celje players is huge and currently the best example is Telekom Veszprém: Eight former Celje players are in Xavier Sabate’s squad, three of them (Dragan Gajic, Gasper Marguc and Blaz Blagotinsek) were born in Celje and seven of them transferred directly from Celje (Blagotinsek, Marguc, Ivan Sliskovic, Mirko Alilovic, Mirsad Terzic, Mate Lekai and Renato Sulic). The last player that moved there was young line player Blaz Blagotinsek at the start of this season.

Another Blaz from Celje, 20 year old Blaz Janc, is the next to make the move. The 2014 Youth Olympic gold medalist, 2016 Olympic participant and 2017 World Championship bronze medalist with Slovenia will transfer to defending VELUX EHF Champions League champions Vive Tauron Kielce from next season on. He will become the successor to German EURO 2016 champion Tobias Reichmann, who signed for MT Melsungen.

Janc, awarded EHF Player of the month October 2016, played his first match for the “Brewers” first team at the age of 15- after which he consistently improved, raising the interest of all European top clubs.

Janc is pleased with the move, but still holds Celje in high regard: “For me this transfer is a huge confirmation of all the hard work, and proof that I am on the right path. All my thanks go to Celje, a true handball city, where I had all the conditions and support to get to this level from Coach Branko Tamse and my teammates.

"I came here at the age of 15, and I would do it in the same way again. I recommend this club to all young talented players. I will always love coming back to Celje and I am looking forward for the next few months being here.”

At Kielce, he will join the club of two more Slovenians, the playmakers Uros Zorman and Dean Bombac.

For Celje’s director Gregor Planteu, Janc leaving is a loss, but on the other hand, it proves that the club is on the right path: “We are very sad that Blaz is leaving because we want the team to continue.

"But we are aware that he wants to make another step in his career at a club that regularly compete for the Champions League trophy. So we are glad that we have the level of quality in our club to lift a player like him. It is recognition of our handball school.”

Nevertheless, his club will be bolstered by another big name, which again underlines Celje’s attraction as a talent pool: Daniel Dujshebaev, son of Kielce’s coach Talant Dujshebaev, will arrive at the “Brewers” this summer.

The MVP of the U20 EHF EURO 2016 has just signed a five year contract at Kielce- but he will spend his first two years at Celje to grow, develop and learn, in Coach Branko Tamse’s squad in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Janc is not the only Slovenian, who has made it to a big club: right back Jure Dolenec (currently playing for Montpellier HB) just signed a five year contract at FC Barcelona, which starts after this season.

RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko will face KS Vive Tauron Kielce in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase this Sunday, the 19.02. The action can be seen live on ehfTV.com.


TEXT: Björn Pazen/kc

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