Former Albanian captain Lorik Cana claims Granit Xhaka wanted to play for Albania, but ended up with Switzerland after permit issues.
Former defender and defensive midfielder Lorik Cana is Albania’s most capped player of all time, with 92 appearances.
There are many similarities between his initial situation and Xhaka’s, even if they ended up going in completely different directions.
Cana held a Swiss passport and had to choose between them and Albania, and he even had a trial with Arsenal at 16.
Unlike Xhaka, Cana didn’t end up joining Arsenal, moving to PSG instead. Additionally, Cana chose Albania, whilst Xhaka captains Switzerland. However, the 36-year-old claims Xhaka was only held back from Albania by permit issues.
“Of course,” Cana responded when asked if there were players who have tried to play for Albania and couldn’t (via NOA).
“It was the case of the Xhaka brothers. I remember the younger brother, Granit, who plays for Arsenal, called me after wanting to play for the national team.
“At that time, FIFA did not issue permits as he did not have an Albanian passport.”
Xhaka has never exactly hidden his feelings towards Albania. Most will remember his celebration against Serbia in the 2018 World Cup, making a two-headed eagle gesture, which he said was for his people, his homeland and his parents’ roots.
In response, when action was taken against the midfielder’s ‘political gesture’ by FIFA, the Albanian Prime Minister opened a bank account to make a symbolic contribution to paying the fine.
All the same, Xhaka is with Switzerland now, and he seems happy to be playing for them. The opportunity to represent Albania on the pitch has long since passed.