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10.03.2016, 13:30
Sebetic's rise through the ranks
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FEATURE: The young Croatian star has been on two occasions on the beneficial end of injuries, which in turn fast-tracked his climb up the pecking order for his club and country
 

Sebetic's rise through the ranks

Five years ago Luka Sebetic played his first season in VELUX EHF Champions League.

At the time he was only 17 years old, but was showing great talent; talent which launched him into Zagreb’s senior team.

In his first season he scored only one goal, but now he is one of the Zagreb’s best shooters with 38 goals, and has no intention of stopping.

In last match of group phase against THW Kiel he scored eight times from nine attempts and was best player for the Croatian side.

Zagreb lost in the end, but the 21-year-old’s performance was under the spotlight.

“Result-wise, this match against Kiel wasn't very important because both teams have already secured their positions in Group B.

“But playing in VELUX EHF Champions League, and in the amazing atmosphere of Sparkassen-Arena is always something special.

“I am glad that I played really well and that my contribution to this match was something good,” said Sebetic to ehfcl.com.

Young Sebetic had big shoes to fill in Zagreb’s right side of attack after his namesake Luka Stepancic tore his ACL in match against SG Flensburg.

Veselin Vujovic gave his full trust to Sebetic who eventually ended up in the Best 7 of Round 8 with his eight goals against Flensburg.

He showed that Zagreb lost one great shooter, but that they have another one with same shooting instinct.

“I had a mixture of emotions after Stepancic’s injury happened, but I just looked at it as something that can’t be changed.

“From the first match I told to myself that I should go match by match. Some matches were better some worse, but I am simply satisfied with my performance and progress, so I will continue to play with that mindset.”

He took his chance to shine with both hands. When Stepancic recovers from his injury he will no longer play for Zagreb since he has signed for PSG so Sebetic will be the main man in the right back position.

His performance so far this season will encourage him for the future: “For sure it is going to be far easier for me next season because I will know my role.

“Throughout this season I prepared for that. It is always easier to take on a role you are familiar with,” said Sebetic.

From one big stage to another

Great performances in VELUX EHF Champions League led him to a spot in the national team and an invitation to the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland where he was Croatia’s youngest player.

In Zeljko Babić’s team he had similar situation as in Zagreb.

He was the understudy of team captain Marko Kopljar who was, however, struggling with a knee injury throughout whole championship, so Sebetic again had a great chance to show what he can do on the EHF EURO stage.

“I won a bronze medal at my first ever EHF EURO, and coach Babic gave me role that was not at all meaningless - I am very glad that it turned out this way.”

Sebetic has impressed so much with his great performances that his name is now also on the 28-name roster for the Olympic Games qualification tournament where Croatia will play against Denmark, Norway and Bahrain.

And Sebetic credits a lot of his success to playing in Europe: “Playing in the Champions League has definitely had a huge influence on my performance in national team.

“Preparation for national team is playing for your club - where you hone your skills. Playing for national team is just the cherry on top, but they are both intertwined with each other,” commented Sebetic.

The Croatian youngster and his teammates from Zagreb have a difficult schedule in this month. First there are Last 16 matches against Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

After that Zagreb will play in the "Final 4" of SEHA League together with Veszprém, Vardar and Meshkov Brest.

“We are focusing on our next rival in Champions League and that is Rhein Neckar Löwen. They are top of the Bundesliga at the moment, but we are going to prepare as best as we can - both mentally and physically. I can only promise one thing for the fans – specular handball,” Sebetic concluded.


TEXT: Jelena Bagarić / bc
 
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