He came to Metalurg as a young and unexperienced handball player, and after his first season in the SEHA – Gazprom League he showed his talent and potential. With 100 goals Halil won the best scorer award, but we had already known that we have a handball player with shining future in handball. As a debutant, Halil Jaganjac was even elected among the best six debutants of the VELUX EHF Champions League.
This year, for the first time, he played for the Croatian National team at the EHF EURO 2018. The 19 - year old is one of the youngest players in his team, and still he was unstoppable as he scored 100 goals in the regular season. His average is 5.56 goals per match.
Coming into the season he never expected to be the top scorer of the SEHA – Gazprom League. Even though he was off to a slower start, he quickly picked up his scoring and finished with 100 goals, despite only being 19. ‘When I came to Metalurg, at the beginning all I could think about was how to make progress and how to confront the top players in the League. If someone told me back then, that at the age of 19 I’m going to be the TOP scorer, I would have told him that he is crazy. As the season began it was obvious that I'll need time to adapt, and I played poorly. For the rest of the season I was consistent with scoring, and I'm really happy for that.’
Hetrained with PSG's first team, and played with the second team, but still made a choice to leave that all behind and to come to Skopje. For many players such a decision is not easy to make.‘I knew that this is the right move for me and that I’ll take advantage of the chance. At PSG I was surrounded by stars, and even for a good fighter like me, it was very difficult to get a chance and more time on the court. Metalurg gave me a great chance because when it comes to working with young players, the club has proven itself in the past. And now, I’m a three times better player than at the beginning of the season.’
He did not stop to think when Lino Cervar called him for the Croatian senior national team and explained that with Metalurg he will get a chance. He gave Halil some good examples of other players that found better clubs afterwards. ‘I didn’t even take a minute to think about it, but instantly grabbed the offer because I knew that I would have regretted it if I passed on the chance.’
SEHA League and Metalurg definitely fulfilled his expectations. The fact that Jaganjac has been one of the key players of his team, was a big step forward in his career. ‘It is much more than I anticipated. It’s beyond what I thought it would be. For a young player, it’s very important to enjoy every training and every match. And I do enjoy it all, plus I’m upgrading my game.’
It did not take a long time for Halil to impose himself as one of the leading players of Metalurg. The fans realized it, and after just a few games they were waiting to see one of his strong performances. And he was performing, game in and game out. ‘It’s true that I imposed myself, but it wasn’t easy for me to do it. But this was my chance and I knew that I have the potential and that I had to show it. I had to work hard with the team, but also as an individual. I expected the coach to notice that and to give me the chance that’ll grab on and prove myself. That’s what kind of a player I am, scoring from 9 meters. Metalurg was counting on me, hoping that I’ll become the 9 meters shooter they didn’t have before me.’
Jaganjachad an opportunity to play against various teams and different handball schools, but it is always hard to pick the most special moments. ‘I’ve never thought of it like that. I can’t pick a match or a moment because I enjoyed it all. Every match brought something new and exciting and I loved it.’ However, Halil did not hesitate to pick the match against the Slovakian Tatran Presov as the most challenging one this season. ‘They were aggressive, focused on me, trying to stop me, and it was really difficult to play. Of course, Vardar are also a difficult opponent. They have this great defense and if you succeed and get past it, then behind them stands Arpad Sterbik. Vardar have what we call a 'steel' defense, and makes no difference for the team if they play at home or as guests.’
As we already know, Halil is a strong shooter and it is difficult for defenses to stop him. From the stands, he looks powerful and plays a very mature game. ‘I’ve been told that I play better than others my age. I think that I still have much more to learn, and to advance my game. And I need more experience. But, it would be strange for a 19-year old to play on 100 percent as the best players in the League. That will come in the next 2-3 years of experience.
Metalurg will not participate in the SEHA Final 4 this season, but the team made impressions as an unpredictable and motivated rival.‘Our position in the League reflects the reality. Maybe we could not win some matches, but it’s a fact that we won matches that no one expected us to. Those kind of results happen, because of our lack of experience. The average age of our backline is 20 years. That is really young and thus there are oscillations. Our game may be mature, but we lack practical knowledge. Considering the departure of some players, we had a very good season.’
Halil Jaganjac certainly had a terrific season. This was all just a sign of the things to come from this special young player. He is keeping his head down, working hard and is determined to succeed. He still has a long way to go, but there are no doubts that Jaganjac is going to be scoring goals for many more years to come. The future is bright!