Lorik Cana takes time off from club football

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 2, 2016 15:05

Lorik Cana

TIRANA, Sept. 2 – Former Albania captain Lorik Cana says he will take some time off from professional club football until he recovers from injuries. The confirmation follows rumors that heart problems led the Albanian captain to quit the national team and his French club Nantes last month.

“I decided this summer to reject all the proposals I received to be able to come back fit and I hope to be ready for new achievements and projects," Cana wrote in a message to fans from Rome where he resides with his Italian wife and a one-year-old son.

“I just turned 33 and after 14 years at the highest levels, I needed some time to recover from injuries,” he added.

Writing about his decision to retire from international football, Cana said that after the Euro 2016 tournament he thought it was the right time as the greatest achievement in Albanian football history.

"I feel honored of having represented my people and nation during all my career," said Cana, a Kosovo-born player who captained Albania for the past five years.

Last June, Albania ended their historic debut in a major football tournament in a dramatic disqualification filled with suspense after the national side was unlucky to make it to the knockout stage of the Euro 2016 as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Cana, now at 33, prematurely quit French club Nantes, but could try a new experience outside Europe before his eventual retirement from professional football in the next January transfer window.

“He was a great player, captain and man. He enjoys my highest appreciation for his contribution and values,” said Albania’s Italian coach Gianni De Biasi, ahead of the Morocco friendly, the first match Albania played without the historic captain and Albania's most capped player with 93 games since he joined Albania in 2003.

The 33-year old defender joined France’s Ligue 1 club Nantes from Italy’s Lazio in Sept. 2015 on a two-year deal but did not shine in his France comeback where his career as a professional kicked off.

Born in Kosovo, Cana began his professional career in France with Paris Saint Germain and also played for Marseille, Sunderland and Galatasaray before moving to Italy with Lazio in 2011.

He was a regular starter with the national side and much of the success in the Euro 2016 qualifiers is also dedicated to him.

Albania was held to a goalless draw in a home friendly against Morocco this week in a test ahead of its first World Cup qualifier against neighbouring Macedonia on Sept. 5.

The Red & Blacks will face a tough race in the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers after being drawn against four-time World Cup winners Italy and 2010 winners Spain in Group G.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 2, 2016 15:05