You started your career at Celje and were the youngest manager in the Slovenian PrvaLiga aged 31. How do you reflect on your time there?
Getting a chance at that age is something I’m really proud of, and I’ll always be grateful to the management of the club at that time, who entrusted me the position to take over the club as the manager.
When I took over, the club was desperately fighting for staying in the league, and in last eight matches we’ve managed to fulfill that goal. The next season was even better, actually much better, as we’ve finished it second in the league and in the cup, and all that with by far the youngest team in the league.
You then make the move to fellow Slovenian club Domžale in 2016. During your time there you win promotion to the top flight and win the Slovenian Cup by beating NK Olimpija Ljubljana 1-0 in the final. What are your memories of the final and Domžale as a whole?
Well, it was my first trophy in senior football, so memories are definitely positive. It was a tactical match, a lot of fighting, but we deservedly won it.
Overall, my time in Domžale was very successful, we had some fantastic results, also on the European level, like winning against Freiburg in Europa League qualifiers, drawing against Marseille.
However, it wasn’t just results, what makes me happy while reflecting that on time, is also a number of players that we’ve helped to get on a higher level. Success of everyone is something that always give me extra satisfaction in my line of work.
I always point out to the players, that my job is to help them get better, and we can do wonderful things if we all give our best and grow as a team.
You moved to Croatian football with Rijeka in 2019. You qualified for the Europa League group phase and played against Napoli, Real Sociedad and AZ Alkmaar. What was it like managing in the Europa League?
It think it’s safe to say that qualifying to Europa League is an amazing achievement, especially in a club like Rijeka, where an event like that happened only once before.
Nobody expected us to be in that company before qualifiers, so it definitely was an overachieving event.
Being able to manage a team in group stage against teams like that was just like playing Champions League.
At the time, Real Sociedad was first in the Spanish league, AZ was almost Dutch champion some months ago, while we all know who Napoli is.
It’s a proud moment of my career, which I’ll work hard to repeat as often as possible in my career. Hopefully with Maribor next season.
You won the Croatian Cup in 2020 by defeating NK Lokomotiva in the final. How proud are you of that experience?
Winning a trophy is always a fantastic experience. I’m really proud of it, especially because it gives you some extra satisfaction.
At the end, everyone that’s working in football, wants to win, but winning a title means that you were successful in long term, as you had to beat every team on your way to the end.
You are now the manager of Maribor. How excited are you to be managing such a big club with European heritage?
It’s a big honour and a privilege to manage Maribor, a club that, as you’ve mentioned, has such a good reputation and history of success, not just in Slovenia, but also in Europe.
It’s a fantastic club, with great players and amazing fans, and I can guarantee I’ll give my best every second while being here.