Not many players in handball remain with their clubs through all ups and downs. In the modern sport, where switching clubs happens so often, some players stand out and become more special than others. In Vardar, they were lucky to have a few of them with those qualities, and Igor Karacic is definitely one of them. No question about it.
A fan favourite. A warrior on the court. A role model off the court. Igor was always there for his team. Whether it was coming off the bench or playing a key role, like this season. Kara is the ultimate team player, with qualities that go far beyond his handball talent. He is a true leader, but also an incredible player and a fantastic handball mind. Even though he wasn’t the captain, he was the one to lift the EHF Champions League trophy for Vardar this year. Karacic deserved it, because he was here from the beginning. He wore Vardar’s jersey with incredible pride and passion all these years. Now, he is leaving Skopje with the European title paired up with the Final 4 MVP trophy, heart of a champion and a status of a legend forever.
Playing in front of the best fans in the world is not an easy task. For some it might be too much, the pressure, the attention… No one can say it’s an easy thing to deal with it. But for players like Karacic, that is an environment they strive in. After all, 76 players wore Vardar’s jersey in the SEHA – Gazprom League era. Some stayed shortly, some stayed longer, and each one dealt with pressure differently. Even though Igor is not from Skopje, the Macedonian capital became his home. A home where his name became iconic in the minds of all the fans. They were signing under his window, in the Arena, during the matches and after the matches. Through difficult times, and losses and of course during these incredible three years, when Vardar lifted the SEHA trophy three times and the European trophy twice.
Karacic and Stoilov are the only players with five SEHA titles. The duo played in all eight SEHA seasons, and the numbers show that. 314 goals, 144 assists in 113 appearances for Karacic in SEHA – Gazprom League. For Vardar, only Dibirov scored more goals, only Abutovic and Stoilov recorded more appearances, and no one had more assists. In every possible aspect, Karacic left a trace that will never be erased.
After the SEHA Final 4 in Brest he promised to come back. “I hope this isn’t my last SEHA trophy. Some of my most beautiful moments were in SEHA League. We helped each other a lot, and it’s very hard to say goodbye. Now I will give my everything somewhere else, like I did in Vardar. I might come back one day because it was beautiful to be a part of this big party like SEHA – Gazprom League is. I am leaving my medals in Skopje, so they have something to remember me by.” For now, this is the last we have seen from Igor Karacic in Vardar. But, we are sure he will always carry the red and black colours in his heart. Also, everyone in Vardar will always smile when they hear his name being mentioned.
Lastly, a message to all the aspiring handball players. To all the children playing sport. When they ask you who is your role model, be sure that you can proudly say it’s Igor Karacic. And to the parents of young athletes. If your child says that he or she is looking up to Igor Karacic, you can rest assured knowing that their choice could not be better.
Thanks for all the memories Igor, you will always be a part of the SEHA family and we look forward to seeing you succeed in the future!