When I first started writing about football back in 2010 I focused mostly on the Swedish League or Allsvenskan as we say in Swedish. I was thrilled to see so many Albanians playing in this rather small country and doing what I always wanted to do, giving Albanians a better image.
Now, five years later it’s time for another premiere of Allsvenskan. So I went through all of the teams to see how many Albanians we had playing in the Swedish first division this season and who they are. I know there are so many more in the lower divisions but writing about all of them would probably take me a couple of months so I had to limit myself. Anyways, enjoy!
Elfsborg (premiere game on Sunday away against Djurgårdens IF)
- Arber Zeneli : The youngest Albanian in Elfsborg’s squad is 20-year-old Arber Zeneli. He made his debut last season at the age of 19 and the midfielder also scored his debut goal during the very last round which ended in a 1-0 win against Brommapojkarna.
- Emir Bajrami : Veteran Emir Bajrami struggled abroad so he decided to return to Sweden this season and has chosen to play for his former team Elfsborg. He was a part of Elfsborg’s squad back in 2010 when they won the Swedish League.
- Liridon Gashi : The third midfielder in Elfsborg’s squad is Liridon Gashi, the 21-year-old has been playing for them since he was five but has not made his debut in Allsvenskan yet.
Gefle IF (premiere game on Sunday away against Falkenbergs FF)
- Dardan Mustafa : 23-year-old Dardan Mustafa left Lunds BK for Gefle IF last year and will be a part of Gefle this season as well. The forward scored his first goal last October in the 1-2 loss against IFK Norrköping.
- Ilir Berisha : Kosovo’s NT player trained with Helsingborgs IF but it was Gefle who offered him a two year contract just last week. He left FC Prishtina for Örebro SK three years ago and the defender scored three goals in his first season for ÖSK.
Halmstads BK (premiere game on Monday away against AIK)
- Perparim Beqaj : Born in 1995 Perparim Beqaj debuted in Allsvenskan only weeks after his 19th birthday. This was during the fall of 2014 but he has only a couple of minutes added to his resume.
- Shkodran Maholli : His fellow team-mate Shkodran Maholli, also a forward, made his debut at the age of 17 back in 2011. Struggled with injuries which has stopped him from getting much playtime in the first team.
Helsingborgs IF (premiere game tomorrow away against Kalmar FF)
- Astrit Ajdarevic : During the summer of 2012 Astrit Ajdarevic left Sweden for Belgium team Standard Liege but the 24-year-old is being loaned out to Helsingborgs IF until summer. He has also been a part of Liverpool’s youth academy.
Häcken (premiere game tomorrow away against Hammarby)
- Dardan Rexhepi : The almost two metre tall striker recently joined BK Häcken after leaving Brommopojkarna. 23-year-old Rexhepi played for Malmö FF for a couple of years and has also represented Kosovo’s national team.
- Egzon Binaku : Defender Egzon Binaku was awarded a contract in the first team just last year and the 19-year-old is hoping to debut in Allsvenskan this season.
- Leonard Zuta : Häcken would describe this defender as a player who can run forever. The 22-year-old made his debut back in 2012 and has represented Maceonia’s U21 team.
Malmö FF (premiere game on Monday away aganst GIF Sundsvall)
- Agon Mehmeti : After a tour around Europe Agon Mehmeti returned to Malmö FF last year. The striker noted two goals last season and whenever he scores the Malmö supporters are quick to sing his chant “Tunn som en rögad ål” (meaning thin as a European eel). MFF are the reigning champions in Sweden.
IFK Norrköping (premiere game on Sunday home against Örebro SK)
- Gentrit Citaku : 19-year-old Gentrit Citaku will miss the premiere game due to a shoulder injury and will have to cheer on his team from the bleachers. He made his debut during the fall of 2013 at the age of 17 and weeks later he helped Sweden win a bronze medal in the U17 World Cup.
For those of you who lost count, that’s 13 men.
Next week the women’s Damallsvenskan will kick off but I thought I’d write about our vajza as well. This season I have only found two of them who are a part of a first team but who knows if another talent will show up during the year?
Eskilstuna United (premiere game next Sunday at home against Linköpins FC)
- Elena Sadiku : The former Malmö and Kristianstad player joined Eskilstuna last season and the 21-year-old scored twice in her new team. Unfortunately Elena Sadiku missed half of the season due to a knee injury. Despite the injury Eskilstuna were very eager to extend her contract.
Linköpings FC (premiere game next Sunday away against Eskilstuna United)
- Venera Rexhi : Venera Rexhi made her debut at the age of 17 back in 2013 and scored three goals last season. She just turned 19 last month and is on Albania’s wishing list.
So the final number is 15. We will hear 15 different Albanian names in the Swedish sports media throughout the season and I am very excited to see which one out of these 15 will stand out. Wishing every single one of them the best of luck!