”I proved to myself that hard work, stubbornness and belief really can pay off. You as a player must set your own goals, and if you want to reach them hard enough, you will do everything you can to achieve them. Most importantly; trust in your own ability to determine your path.“
Ljubomir Vranjes (born in Göteborg, Sweden October 3rd, 1973) makes his first handball feints in the swedish handball club Kortedala IF at the age of 4.
He early shows he has a special eye for the game, but few actually think that a professional career as a handball player is a realistic option for a male player with the moderate height of 1.66 m.
Ljubomir decides for himself that it is possible.
”I remember how my coach told me that I was too small for handball. I don´t know why I did not listen to what he said... I think I wanted to show that they all were wrong.“
At the age of 17, he has his first real reward, as he is offered the back center position in the team Redbergslids IK in the swedish first league Elitserien.
Vranjes gives up football (although his father promises him a new car if he quits handball instead…!) and gives full focus on becoming a professional handball player. He has never regret it.
Significant for his playing style are the rapid tempo changes, his indisputable will to win and the projectile-like breakthroughs.
”He was so disappointed, my dad, as I chose handball. I did it because I got the chance to play in the first league, for me that was a really big thing. My dad eventually changed his point of view.“
In 1996, legendary coach Bengt Johansson contacts Vranjes with the wish: ”I want you to play for the Swedish National Team.” He plays his first championship in Japan in 1997 wearing the number 17 on his shirt. This number has stayed with him ever since, he is convinced it brings him luck. Vranjes played 164 official games for Sweden (1996-2007) and scored 451 goals.
”To play for your country is a very special and honorable task. Bengt Johansson is a great leader with a real feel for group dynamic, I respect him a lot.“
In 1999, at the age of 26, Vranjes is offered his first international professional contract in BM Granollers, Liga ASOBAL in Spain.
He signs a 3-year contract, but leaves Spain after two and transfers to German club HSG Nordhorn.
”The years in Spain where great. I had reached my dream – to become a professional handball player. In those days we had five training sessions plus one game a week. I am grateful that I got the opportunity to get acquainted with this fantastic region and its warm people.“
The contract with HSG Nordhorn is for five years. Kent-Harry Andersson is Head Coach, and the team is loaded with Scandinavian players like Ola Lindgren, Peter Gentzel and Glenn Solberg. German player Holger Glandorf is a youngster in this team, as well as Maik Machulla (now head coach in SG Flensburg Handewitt).
”The years at HSG Nordhorn were very nice and familial, all players had a really close relationship to one another. I am very thankful to Kent-Harry and Bernd Rigterink who brought me there. Kent Harry later took me to SG Flensburg Handewitt.“
In 2006 SG Flensburg Handewitt signs a 2-year-contract with Vranjes. These are supposed to be his last years abroad before moving back to Sweden.
Vranjes contract is being extendend to one more season, but in December 2008 he is forced to end his career as a handball player due to injury. He continues as assistant coach the remaining part of the season.
”I was really proud to be offered the chance to play for a top club like the SG, I saw a real chance to reach great results. We were always really close, but unfortunalely we did not make it all the way to the top during my time there as a player.“