I recently became aware of a defender playing his football in Kosovo who appeared to be English. Now Kosovo have only been part of UEFA and FIFA since 2016 so it seems unlikely that an Englishman has played in the country before.
The player is Guri Hana, a 17-year-old defender who plays for KF 2 Korriku, a team who play in the second-tier and are based in the capital city of Kosovo, Pristina. He also seems like a hot prospect, after it was reported that he had been on trial in Italy for Lazio.
With England drawing Kosovo in their Euros 2020 qualifying group recently, I thought I would try and find out a bit more about Hana.
In the end, I managed to track down the players’ agent and the player himself and got to ask him a few questions about football in Kosovo.
English Players Abroad: Hi Guri, you said you were born in England, whereabouts was that and where did you grow up?
Guri Hana: I was born in London to Albanian parents and I lived there for 2-3 years. I then I moved to Kosovo.
EPA: When did you start playing football and for what clubs?
GH: I started playing when I was 6 or 7 years old first in KF Kurda, then SHF Shqiponjat e Bashkume, then KF Besëlidhja and two years ago I moved to KF 2 Korriku, where I’m still playing now and last year we were champions of the Kosovo U17 league. Furthermore, I went on trial at Atalanta and Lazio during the summer.
EPA: How would you describe your style of play and are there any players you would compare yourself to?
GH: My position is centre back. I would say I’m very intelligent and physically strong, good with both legs and technically good. A player I would compare myself with is Leonardo Bonucci.
EPA: What is the standard of football like in Kosovo, are the facilities good and is there a lot of support? Is the top league professional?
GH: The top league is professional but the standard is not that good, facilities as well are not that good but overall, the football here is improving. There has been improvement since being accepted to UEFA and FIFA.
EPA: Who can you play for internationally and are you hoping to play for a national team in the future?
GH: I can play for Kosovo, Albania and England. Last month I was called up for selection for the Kosovo U19 national team and in the future I hope I will play for a national team.
EPA: Would you like to play football back in England one day? Do you follow English football?
GH: Yes I would. I’ve actually always followed English football because my favorite team is Manchester United. Also 2-3 years ago, I was on trial at Watford.
EPA: Finally, what are your ambitions for the future?
GH: My ambitions for the future are to play in a high level league somewhere in Europe and to represent one of my countries internationally.
So there you have it, there is a footballer playing in Kosovo who is eligible to play for England internationally. If you’re headed to Pristina to see England take on Kosovo later this year in November then maybe take in a KF 2 Korriku game too and see Hana in action!