AUTHOR'S STORY: "A lot of truly great players have, ever since the SEHA – Gazprom League started, played for the team from Nasice."
In a huge event organized on Monday in King Tomislav sports hall in Nasice, Nexe handball club presented their newest signing, a player who will reinforce their roster starting from this summer - Manuel Strlek. One of the best left wingers in Europe in the past ten years signed a three-year contract with the Croatian vice-champions. Strlek is currently finishing his five-year contract with the Hungarian Telekom Veszprem. Before that, the Croatian national team winger also played for Polish Vive Kielce, Zagreb, and Dubrava.
The signing of Manuel Strlek was in Nasice quickly given the ‘biggest signing in the history of the club’ tag. A lot of truly great players have, ever since the SEHA – Gazprom League started, played for the team from Nasice which is why we’ve used the opportunity to make a bit different All-star team than usual; a SEHA – Gazprom League all-time best.
Goalkeeper: Mate Sunjic
Metkovic-born Mate Sunjic arrived in Nasice in 2010 coming from Medvescak Zagreb, later on spending three seasons between the posts for Nexe. Sunjic had his national team debut in 2009, and now almost 14 years later, he is still one of the best goalkeepers Croatia has. After Nexe, Mate first moved to Creteil, then CSM Bucuresti, and finally French Ivry which is also his current team. Having a Master’s degree in Mathematics, Mate Sunjic is without a single doubt one of the most educated handball players.
Left wing: Marin Jelinic
Another Metkovic-born player on this list. It is interesting that Mate Sunjic’ late mother used to be one of Marin’s first handball coaches. Jelinic arrived in Nasice back in 2017 from Kastela. He is a member of the Croatian national team with the experience of wearing the checkered jersey at the 2021 EHF EURO, as well as recently finishing the 2021 WCh in Sweden and Poland. After six seasons in Nasice, Jelinic has recently decided that the time has come for a new step, and he will continue his career in Hungary playing for MOL Pick Szeged. An incredibly important player for Nexe on both sides of the court.
Right wing: Vedran Zrnic
Vedran Zrnic was a part of the best and most-decorated Croatian handball generation of all-time winning multiple medals including the WCh gold (2003), and the Olympic gold (2004). Zrnic arrived in Nexe in 2015 spending four seasons there before deciding to call it a career. Before Nexe, he played for Zagreb, Slovenian Prule, German Gummersbach, Polish Wisla Plock, as well as Turkish Besiktas. He is currently the sports director of the team from Nasice.
Left back: Halil Jaganjac
One of Nexe’s biggest stars in the last couple of seasons. Talented left back arrived in Slavonia in 2018 flying in from Metalurg Skopje. Born in Rijeka, Halil played for the local team of Kozala, only to join PSG at 18 years of age. Only a year later, he also had his Croatian national team debut. In his four seasons with the team from Nasice, he surely has the best memories from his last one when Nexe managed to reach the EHF European League Final 4 tournament, with Jaganjac taking the scoring title in the competition. In the summer of 2022, he joined Polish Kielce on a four-year contract. He is currently on loan in German Bundesliga playing for Rhein Neckar Löwen.
Centre back: Janko Kevic
Without a doubt – one of the club’s living legends. Born in Zagreb, Kevic arrived in Nasice all the way back in 2004 when Nexe was still playing in the second division. After that, he played for Siscia Sisak, Al Sadd, El Jaish (Qatar), Wisla Plock (Poland), Goztepe (Türkiye), as well as Romanian HCD Constanta. In 2020 Kevic decided to come back to Nasice. At almost 35 years of age, he became the oldest debutant ever in the Croatian national team jersey participating in the 2021 WCh in Egypt. Janko Kevic is the current captain of the team from Nasice.
Right back: Sime Ivic
Despite spending only two seasons in Nasice, the left-hander born in Split is well-remembered in Slavonia. Ivic was one of the first players to show how Nexe can actually be a great ‘springboard’, as he later on joined Slovenian Celje Pivovarna Lasko, French Nantes, Polish Wisla Plock, Belarusian Meshkov Brest, as well as German Erlangen, and Leipzig where he is currently playing. He is an occasional Croatian national team player, with the 2021 EHF EURO being his most recent one in the checkered jersey.
Line player: Marko Mrdjenovic
The only player born in Nasice that has managed to make the cut, and find his place on our list. After a short spell in Bjelovar, Mrdjenovic returned to Nexe where he ended up finishing his career at the age of 37. Former club captain, nicknamed ‘Totti from Nasice’ due to his longevity in the green jersey. A strong pivot, a key defensive player for his team whenever he was out there. Today he is coaching kids in Nexe and is an assistant coach in Nexe’s B-team.
Coach: Branko Tamse
In 12 SEHA – Gazprom League seasons, we’ve seen four great coaches on Nexe’s bench, with each of them successfully guiding, and improving the team from season to season. First, it was Kasim Kamenica (2008-2013), then Zdenko Kordi (2013-2016) who was the first one to help the team secure a spot on the SEHA – Gazprom League final tournament, as well as in the group stage of the EHF Cup. Kordi was succeeded by Hrvoje Horvat (2016-2021) who after that became the Croatian national team coach and was succeeded by Branko Tamse. Tamse arrived in Slavonia after leading Gorenje, Celje PL, as well as PPD Zagreb from the bench. In Slovenia, they call him ‘Branc the Conqueror’ due to all the great results, and numerous trophies he’s managed to reach with his teams. Although he is yet to win a trophy with Nexe, he’s helped them reach the biggest success in their history booking a spot on the EHF European League Final 4 tournament a season ago.