Elvis Fatović, head coach of Australias “Aussie Sharks”, shares his Top 5 picks of the season as our 3rd Expert Juror for the Total Player 2017 Award.
Elvis Fatovic is one of the finest and most decorated Croatian water polo players in the history of our sport. In his rich playing career, he played for Jug Dubrovnik and Mladost. He took Jug to the Champions League title twice (2001 and 2006) and won the 2000 LEN Cup. He played for the Croatian national team 128 times and won silver at the 2003 European Championship in Kranj. He often was one of the best shooters of the state championship.
He completed his career as a professional athlete in 2007. He has been the trainer of the men’s team at Jug Dubrovnik until the end of 2011, when he took over the junior divisions. As a coach, he won the Croatian Championship season 2008/09, the Croatian Cup twice, as well as the Adriatic Water Polo League in the 2008/09 season.
As an assistant coach, he won the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, where he led the national team in the first match of the Championships with his colleague Kobeščak to victory over Greece.
Coach Fatović’s Total 5 of 2017
1st – Sandro Sukno
Croatia Team Captain | Club: Pro Recco | Position: Driver
“He definitely matured as a player in the last two years and tipped the scales at the World Championships. In every major game, he stepped up when he was most needed and took responsibility, which is the quality of a true leader. He is only 27 years old and considering his speed and other qualities, he can be in the place where he is now, the best in the world, for another 7 to 8 years.”
2nd – Andrija Prlainović
Serbian National Player | Club: Szolnoki Vízilabda SC | Position: Driver
“In case that Serbia entered the finals and won the World title, he would have been the one in the first place. He has a phenomenal season behind him, both in his club and the national team, with which he played a great World Championship. A player who delights me with his simplicity (in the pool and beyond) and effectiveness, and the number of trophies he has won with clubs and the national team is amazing.”
3rd – Márton Vámos
Hungary National Player | Club: 2016/17 Szolnoki Vízilabda SC, 2017 Ferencvaros | Position: Driver
“One of the best shooters right now, who continues the phenomenal Hungarian lineage of great lefties. This year, with the club, he won all possible trophies, and at the World Championship only lost the final match. Already blessed with a defense-breaking shot, he largely improved his defensive game, which now makes him one of the best lefties in the world.”
4th – Luka Lončar
Croatian National Player | Club: Jug Dubrovnik | Position: Center Forward
“He has been playing in both, his club and the national team on the highest possible level for the last 2 years and is definitely one of the most deserving athletes for their achievements. It’s impressive to see how easily he is able to hold the position at the 2-meter mark, thus enabling his outside line to get dangerously close. He is excellent on the post-positions during power plays, and a strong defensive asset as well, since he started his career as a center back. ”
5th – Marko Bijač
Croatian National Player | Club: Jug Dubrovnik | Position: Goalkeeper
“Unbelievably calm and collected for his age, the most important defensive asset for the national team and his club Jug Dubrovnik. The defense is based and depends on his abilities, which enables his team to take bigger risks and allows for quick counter attacks. In my opinion, he has been the best goalkeeper in the world for the last 2 years, and given the common career span of a goalie, that’s where he should be for a long time.”
I would like to mention two more players for the massive contribution they gave to their teams:
Xavi Garcia, who adds incredible quality to his teams in both directions, thus making his teammates better. He is often responsible for guarding the opponent’s most dangerous players, which he does phenomenally.
Aaron Younger – he has won all possible trophies with his club, and in the Australian National Team, he plays on every position. One of the few athletes in the world who can literally play every role and perform in any team in the world.