Partizan keeper Filip Kljajic signed a two-year deal with Japanese outfit Omiya Ardija.
Kljajic originally arrived to Partizan back in 2014, previously playing for Hajduk Beograd, Sumadija Jagnjilo, Metalac and Rad. While in Partizan, he had one loan spell at Greece, playing for Platanias back in 2018.
We interviewed departing Partizan goalkeeper upon his Omiya Ardija contract signing.
New year started with a boum for you. Were there signs of your departure before the festivities?
-It happened so sudden, I was on holiday with my wife I didn`t expect such transfer and contract conditions. New year started so well, let`s hope for more, said Kljajic.
You also had offers from Greece?
-It`s always hard for goalkeepers to find new club but I was lucky clubs showed interest in me during this winter transfer window. After consulting my family, I picked the most suitable offer.
What was crucial for you to move to Japan?
-Great training centre, stadium, working conditions and financial part, of course.
You passed you medical and signed the contract. What are your first impressions?
-I had such a thorough medical, up to the tiniest details, I`ve never seen anything like that. They checked every single bone and joint to see if there are any previous injuries. Heart check and other medicals were also good but I signed a two-year deal eventually and I`m so thrilled with it.
You won titles and played European competitions with Partizan. What are your fondest memories from your Partizan days?
Besides not losing a single Eternal derby game I must say double won with boss Marko Nikolic in charge was the pinnacle of my Partizan career.
Did you meet your new goalkeeper`s coach?
-I did and it looks like he is pleased with my arrival but we will paint the real picture ones we start training. Myself and Haskic are the only arrivals so far but the winter transfer window has just started.
Partizan goalkeepers always get along. Are you going to miss your goalkeeping coach Jovsic?
-I`m going to miss everyone. After six-and-a-half years it`s hard when you make a change but I made rational decision due to financial reasons and I also believe I`ll play more. As for Jovsic, I`m going to miss relationship we all had with him from the day one.
You had a habit of coming in not properly warmed-up as a sub after keeper`s injury. Goalies are always among to first to be criticized after a bad result, don`t you think?
-Of course, it`s hard to enter the game without proper warm-up but when you are on the subs bench you have to be ready for it. Considering how much time I spend at Partizan, this club is my second home so I never found it hard.
Some say young keeper Popovic is tipped to be number 1 one day. How would you describe him?
-His goalkeeping style and physique are similar to mine. Popovic had many qualities, he is about to progress even further and Partizan needs to be patient with him. He needs to grow mentally, to push forward as much as he can and there`ll be no problems for him. He`s a great lad even though he comes from the Uzice town centre (laughs).
What are Omiya Ardija plans?
-They missed to qualify for top-tier by a whisker last season. That`s a priority now and I hope we`ll succeed together.
Takuma Asano is thrilled you moved to his home country. Are you going to get in touch with him and greet him in Japanese?
-Maybe, when I learn the language. I`m not going to embarrass myself just now (laughs).
Your wife Marina is moving to Japan with you?
-As soon as I settle and our pre-season finishes. I can`t wait to see her!
What would be your final words for Partizan fans?
-I`d like to thank them on endless support I had and I regret there`ll be no fans like ours where I`m going to play now. Partizan fans can have harsh opinions but they are always there when you really need them!