14-year-old-Kreshnik Krasniqi broke the Norweigan record as the youngest debutant ever

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On May 2012 Sandnes Ulf player Zymer Bytyqi, 15 at that time, became the youngest debutant ever in the Norwegian highest division after breaking the Norwegian record from 2009 (Sverre Økland, 16-years-old). The record was on April 2014 broken by the current Real Madrid youngster Martin Ødegaard. But now, a year has passed and the record has once again been broken by another Albanian. This time by a 14-year-old.

His name is Kreshnik Krasniqi, he plays on the midfield and the young teen was born on December 22nd 2000. The Hønefoss player made his debut earlier on Monday when his team went to visit Nest Sotra in the Norwegian second tier. The home team were beaten by 1-3 and Krasniqi made his debut at the very end playing for four minutes.

Krasniqi doesn’t even have professional contract since an reserve player can make three appearances as a non pro. He had to turn down their U16 team for the first team and we’re glad he did. Otherwise he wouldn’t have made his debut and become the youngest debutant in Norwegian top football history.

By the way, Martin Ødegaard later on went to sign with Real Madrid. Krasniqi on the other hand is a huge FC Barcelona supporter. See where I’m going?  

The Albanian duo that wants to take Ekenäs to the highest division

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Finland, a country known for its thousand lakes but one might wonder if they ever will get known for its thousands of Albanian football players instead. Or well, sometimes it feels like it. While some play in the highest division known as the Veikkausliiga there are others fighting in Ykkönen, the second tier.

Meet Ekenäs IF’s Albanian duo. Fisnik Gerxhaliu and Mergim Bushi. One is born in Kosovo, the other one in Finland. One is making his third season with the team while the other one has just signed for them.

Having played in Ekenäs since 2013 striker Fisnik Gerxhaliu (the guy on the left) was one of the key players in the team last year. Born in Vushtrri, Kosovo, his 16 goals helped them advance to Ykkönen and he was the first player in Ekenäs to score this season as well. Before the season began Gerxhaliu was accompanied by another Albanian as Ekenäs decided to sign the energetic and versatile Mergim Bushi. Unlike his fellow team-mate Bushi was born in Finland but has his roots in South-East Kosovo.

Ekenäs may not be the richest team in Finland, on the contrary actually as they have the poorest economy but the underdogs wants to prove everyone wrong. Gerxhaliu helped his team return to Ykkönen, last time they played there was over 60 years ago and now they are aiming for the top.

From the third tier to the second, next stop: Veikkausliiga!

Besart Berisha historical after winning his third Grand Final in four years

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On early Sunday morning,European time, Melbourne Victory won the Australian Grand Final against Sydney FC. 3-0 was the final score and the first goal was of course scored by the record-man himself, Mr. Besart Berisha.

While everyone in Europe were enjoying their sleep thousands of spectators had arrived to AAMI Park in Melbourne and another millions placed themselves in front of the TV to witness the 10th Grand Final in Australia.

With Berisha from start it was all set for success. The Kosovo born striker only needed 33 minute to spark the home crowd and his own team with a left foot drive that earned Melbourne a 1-0 lead. The score-board only changed during the last minutes when Melbourne added another two goals.

This means that Berisha bagged his third Grand Final win in four years which is the same amount of years that he has played in Australia. Four goals has been scored during the Grand Final and yes he has scored in all three Grand Finals. On top of that he is the only man in Australia that has won back-to-back titles in two different teams.

  • Season 2011/2012 (Brisbane) : Won the Grand Final. 21 season goals by Berisha, two of which where scored in the GF. 
  • 2012/2013 (Brisbane) : Brisbane didn’t make it past the semi-finals. 14 goals by Berisha.
  • 2013/2014 (Brisbane) : Won the Premier’s Plate and Grand Final. 13 goals by Berisha, one goal was scored in the GF. 
  • 2014/2015 (Melbourne) : Won the Premier’s Plate and Grand Final. 15 goals by Berisha and one was scored in the GF.

The 29-year-old has collected many trophies and awards during these four years. If we rewind to 2011, no one knew who he was when he first arrived. Now he has scored 63 goals in the Australian A-League, a league that was re-established ten years ago, making him the third top goal scorer ever. His fellow team-mate Archie Thompson holds the current record so if Thompson decides to retire any time soon Berisha ‘only’ needs to score about 20 goals to once again claim another title. But we all know it’s just a matter of time until he will do so.

Five years without Besjan Idrizaj, today we remember the former Liverpool talent

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Swansea City posted the right picture on their Twitter account today showing us that they have not forgotten him.

On May 15th 2010 the football world was met by the news that Besjan Idrizaj had passed away. The cause of death was a cardiac arrest and he died in his sleep, only months before his 23rd birthday, while visiting his parents home in Linz, Austria. Today marks the fifth anniversary of Idrizaj’s death.

His birth town Linz was also where he first started playing football at a young age. A few years later he signed a two-year contract with Liverpool but he struggled with injuries and had to fight the reserves in order to show what he was capable of. That same year he went to Liverpool he won the Austria’s Young Player of the Year award. The Austrian U21 player stayed in Liverpool for two years before being loaned out to different teams. During 2008 he had collapsed twice but doctors explained that he was fine and that it was only a virus giving him a hard time.

Swansea City, one of the most successful teams in Wales, decided to sign Idrizaj for the 2009/2010 season and it was Swansea that was the last team Idrizaj played for. Shortly before the season ended he passed away and we could add another young player to the football world’s memorial hall.

Swansea actually advanced to Premier League the season after and celebrated this achievement by wearing a shirt with a picture of Idrizaj and his name on it. A beautiful gesture that warmed our hearts. On top of that they have decided to retire his #40 jersey so that he is forever a part of the team.

“Never forget one of our Swansea family. Still in our thoughts always. #RIPBesjan ” – Swansea’s head coach Garry Monk on Twitter. 

He is forever with us as well. Gone but never forgotten. RIP Besjan Idrizaj.

Fatmire and Enis Alushi expecting their first child!

27-year-old Fatmire Alushi announced on her official Facebook page today that she is pregnant. The Paris Saint-Germain player is married to the 29-year-old football player Enis Alushi and the couple are both expecting their first child.

This means that last night’s Champions League final was the last game for Mrs. Alushi as she has decided to take the year off and focus on her family. She will also miss out on the women’s World Cup in Canada this summer. She tells DFB.com that she has yet to decide when she will return to PSG and Germany’s national team.

The head coach of Germany said to media that Alushi will be missed since she’s an important player in the team and yes we can all agree that the World Cup will not really be the same without Alushi. Let’s just hope that she has a great pregnancy and that baby Alushi will follow the career paths of his/her parents.

Kosovare Asllani in tears as PSG loses the Champions League final

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Berlin, Germany. A thrilling Champions League final took place on Thursday evening when FFC Frankfurt took on Paris Saint-Germain’s ladies. PSG brought along their Albanian duo Kosovare Asllani and Fatmire Alushi all the way from France, both being put from start. Frankfurt on the other hand did not call up 18-year-old Valentina Limani.

Frankfurt were confident playing at home and were the team to score the first goal 32 minutes into the game. The crowd did not have to wait much longer for the equalizer as PSG equalized eight minutes later. 1-1 was the score when the referee blew the whistle for a halftime break.

Alushi only played until the 57th minute before being substituted out and she had to witness both teams struggling to score the winning goal. The clocked ticked awayand during overtime Frankfurt managed to break the deadlock. Shortly after Asllani joined Alushi on the bench but the substitution did not help PSG. Frankfurt were crowned as CL winners for the fourth time while PSG have yet to win one.

The Germans were happy to celebrate the victory while several sad faces was shown by the camera, one of which was the face of Kosovare Asllani’s. But she is going to wipe away her tears since she has a chance to win another international trophy this summer. Sweden’s national team have called her up to the squad that will participate in the World Cup.

Kosovo’s NT player Shpetim Hasani finally ends his goalless streak

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Photo by: Agron Berisha for FFK.

254 days. It has been 254 days since Shpetim Hasani scored in Poland’s Ekstraklasa but he has finally ended his goalles streak. His third season goal was scored on Monday and he took a sigh of relief, well I think we all did, as the ball rolled into the goal.

Górnik Łęczna had to visit Piast Gliwice on Monday night as both teams are fighting for their survival. The 32-year-old striker Hasani was benched at first but was substituted in after 65 minutes of playtime. At that time the scoreboard read 2-2 and 14 minutes later Hasani was there to save the day. He scored the winning goal for Górnik and they were able to walk away with a win.

It has been a struggle for not only Hasani who just added his third season goal but also his team. Kosovo’s NT player just left Swedish Örebro SK during the summer and hoped to help Górnik Łęczna  win titles but they finished at the bottom half of the table after the regular season. That meant that they now have to play in the relegation rounds. The game against Piast Gliwice was only the first one and they need to do well in the next six games to remain in the top tier.

Seahawks pick Kristjan Sokoli making him the first Albanian in NFL history

Picture of Kristjan Sokoli from Buffalo College.

Picture of Kristjan Sokoli from Buffalo College.

Until now there has not been any Albanian in the National Football League but thanks to Seahawks, we can gladly say there is one now. On May 2nd the American football team Seattle Seahawks announced that they had picked Albanian born Kristjan Sokoli as their second choice in the sixth NFL draft round. This means that for the first time ever I can use the words Albanian and NFL in the same sentence.

Sokoli was born in northern Albania, well Shkodër to be exact. A city that has raised several famous soccer players, such as Hamdi Salihi, Bekim Balaj, Armando Vajushi, Elseid Hysaj and so on. Sokoli actually followed the same path as these group of men and started playing this sport.

Growing up was not easy, due to political reasons his father had to flee the country when Sokoli was only five. Father Gjon moved to America, two years later his mother left as well and when Sokoli was nine him and his brother joined their parents on the other side of the Atlantic. Three years later they became American citizens.

Despite becoming ‘Americans’ he is proud of his Albanian heritage. The Albanian flag hangs on his walls, Albanian music pours out of his speakers and when his parents calls he answers in Albanian.  

Around that time his cousin/mentor convinced Sokoli to switch path and play American football. While attenting Bloomfield High School, New Jersey he started playing football instead against his parents will. They were not happy with him playing this rough sports but his passion for the sports was too big for anyone to stop him.

When it was time for college the defensive lineman got a scholarship with Buffalo College in New York so that he could play football as well as working on his Business Administration degree.

“I’m like, ‘What am I doing here? Some Albanian guy?’ I was in Albania, now I’m playing in front of 20,000 fans in Buffalo, New York in college football.” – Sokoli in an interview with ubspectrum.com.

For the NFL 2015 draft it was announced that Sokoli would have to leave the east coast and move to Seattle to join the 2013 Super Bowl champions. Despite being rather unknown to the American crowd this rookie is hard to miss as he is 1,96 meter tall and weighs about 136 kilograms. I doubt that any man would want to get tackled by this Albanian beast.

“He’s a hard-nosed football player and he’s real smart too.” – Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to ESPN.

Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable have already made plans for the 23-year-old as they want him to play center offense instead of defenseive lineman like he played in college. This has caught media’s attention wondering how he might do so but Cable has done it once and succeeded. Oh and with Sokoli’s soccer background he can also play as a kicker. We’ll just have to wait and see where Seahawks will put Sokoli during the fall when the season starts.

“It’s about making myself proud, but also my inner family proud and also all of the Albanians proud. ” – He says to Seahawks website.

Mr. Sokoli, we are all very proud of you. Now go out there and show America that Albanians can play football too!

Fejzullahu through to Champions League’s knockout stage while reigning champ Haliti fails to advance

asiaCLThis week the final rounds of Asia’s Champions League group stage are being played. 16 teams will advance to the next round which is the knockout round, Beijing Guoan being one of the final 16. They played 1-1 against South Korean Suwon Bluewings today which was enough for them to go through as group winners. Beijing will now face either another South Korean team Jeonbuk Motors or Chinese Shandong Luneng on May 26th.

Erton Fejzullahu played from start and even assisted to Beijing’s goal in the 25th minute. The Kosovo born striker got a red card efter only 30 minutes of playtime in the first round and returned for the fourth round. This means that he only participated in three games out of six. In the domestic league he’s doing better scoring four goals in eight games.

Unfortunately the luck weren’t on Labinot Haliti’s and the reigning champions Western Sydney Wanderers side. Last year they lifted the trophy but this year the Australians didn’t make the cut after finishing third. Haliti made five appearences whereas three of them from start.

Vullnet Basha returns as Real Zaragoza keep fighting for a La Liga spot

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We are slowly approaching the final rounds of Secunda Division. Real Zaragoza are one of the teams fighting at the top half but they are currently just outside the final playoff-spot. This weekend Zaragoza with Vullnet Basha on board failed to clinch the final spot as Zaragoza only got only one point from Ponferradina.

Injuries, a red card and collecting to many yellow cards have prevented Basha from getting much play time but he is still an important part of the Zaragoza puzzle. This was proven last night when returned to help Zaragoza play 1-1 against Ponferradina. He had a great shot on goal right after the half-time break but it was saved by the goalkeeper. Zaragoza were given a corner and managed to score but Ponferradina equalized shortly after. Now both teams have 53 points in the chart. A win would’ve been better for seventh placed Zaragoza as sixth placed Ponferradina still have a firm grip on the final spot for the promotion playoff.

Basha has only one goal noted and it was a beauty I can add, goal of the month back in January when Zaragoza beat Recreativo Huelva (2-0). Basha has been in the lineup ten times and with him from start Zaragoza have won four games (in a row!), tied four times and lost twice. He has also been substituted in five times this season. During these games they have won twice, tied twice and lost just once.

Born in Switzerland, the 24-year-old defensive midfielder is actually only on loan from Swiss Sion but the supporters are hoping to keep this har working Albanian in Spain. Despite his absence he has become a favorite amongst Zaragoza’s supporters.