Zeljko Obradovic is back in the saddle. The man who has guided teams to a record nine EuroLeague crowns returned to the place where his coaching career started, Partizan NIS Belgrade. It is where he played as a player and won his first EuroLeague title in 1992. On Monday, Obradovic spoke to the media in the Serbian capital.
"I want to thank the club president for the chance he is giving me again, to return to Partizan and to work in Partizan", Obradovic said in his first press conference in his second stint as Partizan's head coach. "The reason I came back is something that comes from within, the deepest emotions I have towards this club, and I am very happy and proud that I can again sit on the Partizan bench."
Accompanied at the press conference by club president Ostoja Mijailovic and sports director Zoran Savic, the most decorated coach in European basketball history looked comfortable and relaxed, explaining the reasons behind his return.
"For me, this was a pretty easy decision, regardless of the fact that it needed some time to be finalized", he said. Obradovic added that he does not see his move to Partizan as a risk and that his decision was much easier to make than the one 30 years ago when he abruptly ended his playing career to start coaching.
"I always said that Partizan made me. It helped me and the years I spent as a player and the two years I worked as a head coach, it led to me feeling what I feel toward Partizan. I will always say that I owe Partizan, it is not that the club owes me. I am returning to somewhere where I love to be, it is a pure emotion and I cannot wait to start to work."
Obradovic spent the last season away from basketball, a pause he took after spending seven years with Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
"I am the happiest when I am on the floor," he explained. "I had a pause of more than a year. I have a tremendous desire to start working with the players and now there is the greatest challenge ahead to create a team that will be competitive in every competition we will play."
Obradovic will coach in two competitions he never coached before, the 7DAYS EuroCup and the Adriatic League, and he left no doubt what the club's goals are:
"The ambitions are the highest possible. I know what my arrival here means, I know what the expectations are. I can absolutely say that the only thing that interests us is to return to being a club that plays in the EuroLeague, to be a part of that competition. I believe that is where Partizan belongs, and where it deserves to be."