Article
First interview with the coach after winning the league title
PRIDE AND JOY
Nothing can beat the feeling of being the best
Foto: Drago Wernig
Maribor is the champion! Our victory is well deserved, very convincing and it comes after only 32 match days.

“It’s not often you win the league with so many games to play. This has been a very peculiar spring. It started off with us and our main rival tied for points, but we quickly built up a considerable lead at the top and we were very convincing. I’m happy to see the team has been improving throughout the season. We were forced to make some changes during the year and the boys knew how to adapt. On top of that, we’ve managed to create a dressing room atmosphere that is virtually devoid of any distractions, which is something I’m also very pleased about,” said the freshly-crowned league-winning coach Darko Milanič after the match against Gorica.

This is our fourteenth league title and the fifth under our most successful coach, who now tops the list of managers to win the national title with the purple team.
“The number of NK Maribor’s titles is far more important. I’m sure all of our fans, everyone in Styria and further afield, feel the same joy we do. I’ve had the honour of guiding this team to five league titles and I’m very pleased with what we’ve achieved. We shouldn’t be bashful about it. It’s a big thing. And one cannot get tired of it. Nothing can beat the feeling of being the best in the country. This is why we’ve been working hard for the whole season and we can be proud of what we’ve done.”

One of many things we’ve gotten used to by now is the sight of the fans and the team celebrating on the pitch and tossing the coach up in the air.
“A few years back, I was young and it was a lot easier. I’ll admit that this time, I was afraid of how my body was going to react. I was just hoping I’d get out of it unscathed. Fortunately, everything turned out fine.”

It’s time to accept congratulations and enjoy the well-deserved celebrations. We are already thinking about the coming season in which we want to improve even further. What are the first plans for 2017/18?
“Of course you’re always trying to find a way to bring the club even further. There are many factors that will decide whether we will be successful in doing that. If we keep the current squad and retain strong competition for every spot on the pitch, and if we manage to get along as well as we have this year, then I think we have every reason to be optimistic. Our goals in the domestic competitions are clear, but we also have European ambitions. This year, the European competition was put on the back burner after we missed out on playing in the group stage by a hair’s breadth. We really hope we’ll be playing international matches come autumn. We are aware of the pressure involved, but it’s a positive kind of pressure, one that keeps you pushing on. And we consider it a privilege. Our fans have had so many special moments with the club throughout the years and we hope we’ll create more of those.”

After the celebrations, it will be time for the remaining four matches of the season, followed by a short break and the start of a new chapter, that will bring new and exciting challenges for the team in purple...