The captain of the National team, Lorik Cana was born on 27 July 1983 in the city of Prishtina, and currently plays with the club of Nantes, in League 1 in France. When he was just a kid, his family abandoned war-torn Kosovo and emigrated in Switzerland. Since young age he displayed passion for football, and during his teenage years (in 1997) he began to play for the Swiss team Lausanne Sport. While playing for the Swiss team, he was spotted by the officials of the French club, Paris Saint-Germain, and signed a contract in 2000. He started his career as a defensive midfielder.
An important detail of the career of Cana was the trail invitation he had by the British team Arsenal, at the age of 16, but failed to attend and join ‘’The Gunners’’ because he was denied a British visa. He played for 5 years at Paris Saint-Germain. Cana made his debut with the first team in 2003, and since then, he turned into a key point for the team, playing a total of 108 matches, winning the trophy of the Cup of France.
At the beginning of the season 2005-06 he left Paris Saint –Germain and joined Olympique Marseille during the summer transfers. He went through the best period of his career, and in 2007 he became the captain of the team of Olympique Marseille. During his 4 seasons with this team (2005-2009) Cana played 122 games and scored 6 goals.
By the end of July 2009, the captain was transferred at Sunderland , in the English Premiere League, signing a 4 year contract. He immediately became team captain. He became the first Albanian playing in the English Premier League. With Sunderland he registered 31 appearances.
Just after one year, in July 2010, Cana was transferred in the renowned Turkish club, Galatasaray, signing a 4-year contract. Cana became the favorite of the fans of the Turkish club, due to his resilience in the field. Cana played 24 matches for Galatasaray and scored one goal.
His adventure in the Turkish league lasted only one year, because after July 2011 he was transferred to another team, to Lazio Rome in Seria A. Cana made his debut in Italy on 21 September 2011 in a 1-2 away victory against Cesena, coming on as a substitute in the 87th minute. He scored his first goal for Lazio on 10 December 2011 against Lecce in a 3-1 win, after coming on as a substitute in the second half.
At Lazio, Cana played for 4 seasons and appeared in 82 matches , scoring 4 goals. Last summer, Cana returned in the French championship, this time with the team of Nantes.
As for the career with the national team, Lorik Cana was invited to join the Red&Blacks in June 2003 by the former coach of Albania, Hans Peter Briegel. He made his debut with the national team of Albania at the age of 19, in the match against Switzerland in Group 10 of the qualifying round of EURO 2004. The match was won by Switzerland 3-2. Since then Cana was permanent part of the national team, being a referring point for the Red &Blacks, soon the captain of the national team. He has played, like no one before, 86 matches with the national team, being the player with more appearances in the history of the Albanian national team.
Interview May 2016
- Gratulations for a historic performance: 1st participation for Albania at EURO finals! When did you realize this historic achievement for your country?
What were your first emotions after you fixed the qualification?
I felt it right after the whistle. I have been dreaming and imagining that moment for a very long time. I knew that it will happen for us when I started playing with the team in 2003. I knew it what it will mean to me and to the whole Albanian nation.
- You reached France after the 2nd place in your group behind Portugal. What were the reasons your team played so well in the qualification matches?
We started 4 years ago to build up this team, we started with the first campaign for the FIFA World Cup to bring new players in. This is why it was much easier now at the EURO qualification, because we already had this experience together and we could start the same way. We were very lucky to have a start like we had: We won the first match against Portugal. Strength and confidence started growing immediately and from this match on we had all our fans behind us!
- Did the team grow together even better?
Yes, indeed, our experience grew in every match and the relations between us turned from being good teammates into real brotherhood. That’s what we show on the field, helping each other!
- Giovanni de Biasi is the national trainer since 2011. Since then the performance curve of the team shows a big step upward. What are the reasons for this?
- You played for big clubs – like Lazio Rom and Paris Saint-Germain – and you won with both teams the national Cups. Now you still have a contract with FC Nantes. You know many trainers, what are the big advantages of Gianni?
Gianni is really a very good coach with brillant experiences.
Apart from his winning personality, the italian school is really good, I’d even say, one of the best all over the world.
He adapts perfectly well with Albanian people, he became quickly one of us! Gianni took the strenghts and the good parts of Albanian mentality and skills, which is a good mix to get good results.
He knows how to use good foundations and he is good and smart enough to bring the team from the bottom to the top!
- You are one oft he best defenders in Europe. Was it always your favorite position?
I started as a foward until I was 13, centerfoward, I scored many goals. After that I enjoyed midfield in front of the defense. I was in the middle of the game like a fish in the water, forward and backward at the same time. You have to be smart, strong, you have all the game in front of you. I liked to play different positions.
Now in Nantes I am always defender. I always have to bring in the service for the team, I have to be able to set up the game, to start it. If you want, a kind of key player.
- With the age of 20 your were named for „best kicker“ in Albania in the year 2003. You celebrated many victories. What are the main advices you can give to young kickers?
Keep to your passion! Try to take everything you can from that sport which is really able to give you a lot: Joy and satisfaction! It is not the most important to become a professional. Better you enjoy that you can play football, that you can count on the relations to others. Football can improve your mind to be happy and healthy.
- What can Albania achieve in France 2016?
Only God knows!
We are able to do a great competition. We have a great wish to realize something important, something really good for our country, our people. We want to show everyone what brought us to France, it is really historic for us to be qualified. We want to do more, grow better. Actually we do have great opponents in our group, we try with our qualities to go further!
- Where do you see the Albanian football in 10 years?
What can Albania still achieve?
We can see a lot of Albanian talents growing, showing this all over Europe. We have to improve the conditions and facilities. The quality of the people is great, we can reach a lot!
We have to give hope to young people living and growing up in Albania and Kosovo that they have the same opportunities like Albanians who grow up in Switzerland or somewhere else. If we do that we will improve even better!
- And what about your personal goals in football?
- I want to become European Champion 2016 even if I know it will be the most difficult goal of my career.
- Even though the biggest part of my career is already behind me, I feel very happy as ever to have the biggest experience still in front of me!
- After the EURO I wish I’d have the opportunity to try my experience out of Europe.
- You have Albanian and French citizenship. You feel more Albanian or French in your heart?
In my heart I always felt only Albanian, I am proud to be Albanian! But it’s true that I have also the French citizenship, it became a second home to me and my family.
- Thanks for the interview. One last question: Which places in Albania you would show or recommend your best teammates of FC Nantes?
The Ksamil Islands!