”I proved to myself that hard work, stubbornness and belief really can pay off. You as a player must set your own goals, if your will to reach them is strong enough, you will be able to do everything in your power to succeed. Most importantly; trust in your own ability to determine your unique 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 didn't listen to what he said... I think I wanted to show that they all were wrong.“
At the age of 17, Ljubo gets his first real reward, he is offered the back center position in Redbergslids IK, a Swedish premier league team.
He stops playing football (although his father promises him a new car if he quits handball instead…!) and focus entirely on becoming a professional handball player. He has never regretted 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 handball coach Bengt Johansson contacts Vranjes with the wish: ”I want you to play for the Swedish National Team.” Vranjes plays his first championship in Japan in 1997 wearing the shirt number 17. This number has stayed with him ever since, he is convinced it brings him luck. The time as a national team player sums up to 164 official games for Sweden (1996-2007) and 451 goals.
”To play for your country is a very special and honorable task. Bengt Johansson was 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 from BM Granollers, in Liga ASOBAL, Spain.
He signs a 3-year contract, but leaves Spain after two and transfers to German club HSG Nordhorn.
”The years in Spain where fantastic. 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 was grateful for the opportunity to get acquainted with that amazing 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 of SG Flensburg Handewitt).
”The years at HSG Nordhorn were very nice and familial, all players developed a really close relationship to one another. I am very thankful that Kent-Harry and Bernd Rigterink brought me there. Kent Harry later also offered me a job at 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 so close, but unfortunalely we did not make it all the way to the top during my time there as a player.“