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18. May 2018.

Presevo - Iljas Zulfiju is the first Albanian from Presevo who continued the tradition, which was interrupted three decades ago, of playing professional football for a Serbian team.

For Zulfiju, entering the locker room of "Radnicki" from Surdulica was like entering into another world. Although he grew up in Serbia, he attended a three-month course in Serbian while playing for the youth football team. He got a place in the locker room next to captain Vladan Pavlovic, who was born in Surdulica and who said about his colleague that he had initially been non-talkative.

"We immediately accepted him, because we do not attach importance to where our players come from. After the practice, we all together went to the café. We also have a few black persons in the team and they have mastered the Serbian language quite well, so that we are all like a family, "says Mr. Pavlovic, whose special task is to help young people and newly arrived players to fit in the team.

Mr. Zuliju says that leaving Presevo was an important moment for his family.

“My parents supported me and they are satisfied. My father, who regularly comes here, is with me at every single game.  My friends, too, supported me,” Mr. Zulfiju says, pointing out that when he was setting off for Surdulica, they said: “That is good. Just keep pushing forward.”

Source: BBC in Serbian and Coordination Body