The Albanian national team that could have been

For years, players with Albanian heritage have opted to side their allegiances with other countries for the national team. 

Red and Blacks have already created history, qualifying for their first ever international tournament. Albania’s segregation from the rest of Europe has effected their nations football development. It’s become all too common for players with Albanian heritage to select other nations to play for.

Albania v Switzerland tomorrow isn’t just an ordinary match. The Albanian’s hold a certain bitterness for their opposition due to the large amount of Albanian born players.

It’s not hard to wonder what sort of team Albania could have fielded if certain players didn’t choose different countries.

We think they could have been a world powerhouse.

Here are our top 10 players that could have played for the Albanian national team.

Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)

Granit Xhaka will come face to face against his brother Taulant Xhaka who will be playing for Albania. Xhaka has just been transferred to Arsenal and was once described as a “young Schweinsteiger”. Xhaka created controversy in 2012 when he came out and said he felt completely Albanian. Instead he will face the double headed eagle tomorrow in Lens.

Valon Berisha (Norway)

Norway failed to qualify for Euro 2016, which means a young talent in Valon Berisha will miss out showing his skills to the world. Berisha is of Albanian ethnicity and is regarded as one of Norway’s best players. The 23 year old plays football out of Austria for FC Red Bull Salzburg.

Veton Berisha (Norway)

Younger brother of Valon, Veton Berisha is another up and comer for Norway. The 22 year old forward scored eight goals in the 2015/16 season.

Blerim Džemaili

Swiss midfielder Blerim Džemaili will be taking the field against Albania tomorrow. The Albanian born midfielder plays for Genoa in the Italian Serie A. His stamina in midfield and ability to play box to box makes him an invaluable asset for the Swiss.

Pajtim Kasami

Swiss veteran midfielder Pajtim Kasami was cut from Switzerland’s Euro 2016 squad. He plays for Olympiacos in the Greek Super League and is another player to be born into an Albanian family.

Admir Mehmedi

You guessed it, another Swiss midfielder! Admir Mehmedi is a forward who plays for Bayer Leverkusen. The 25 year old of Albanian decent will take to the field tomorrow for Switzerland.

Xherdan Shaqiri

If only. Xherdan Shaqiri is nicknamed the ‘Alpine Messi’. Playing over 50 games for Switzerland, Shaqiri is regarded as their star man. The Stoke midfielder was born to Kosovar Albanian parents. Just another one to add to the list lining up against Albania tomorrow.

Valon Behrami

Watford midfielder Valon Behrami is as dynamic as his ever-changing haircuts. The Swiss midfielder was born in Titova Mitrovica, SFR Yugoslavia to Albanian parents. He holds an impressive resume, featuring for many clubs such as West Ham, Fiorentina, Napoli and now Watford.

Adnan Januzaj

Adnan Januzaj was expected to be at the top of his game by now. The Manchester United midfielder went on loan to Borussia Dortmund in Germany, where he only appeared six times. At only 21 years old, Januzaj has age on his side, but was not selected for Belgium’s Euro 2016 squad. He too could have appeared for Albania, born to Kosova Albanian parents.

So there you have it folks, the Albanian squad that could have been….

 

Ari Charilaou