The Olympic postulate that sport makes people friendly and united people, has shown that it is not just propaganda.
Many times, political enmities have been softened thanks to sport.
This is what happened these past seven years with a Serbian football player who lives in Albania, works and even received education to become a coach.
When Ivan Gvozdenovic set foot in Albania in 2010, he was anxious not only about his desire to become a professional football player, but also about what could happen to him.
“I’d like to speak Albanian, but I’m still no good. I love to try. I had rejected offers from Tirana four times because I didn’t know what Albania was, if I would have problems around here or not. My family had a problem with it. I love football and I was ready to give it a try. I wasn’t scare. I know what is politics, what is football and what is sport”, Gvozdenovic says.
After a successful career with Cervena Zvezda, Klub Bryzh, Dinamo Bukuresht, Metz, Vojvodina and other groups, Gvozdenovic signed for Tirana where he found other players coming from former Yugoslav countries.
“When I signed with Tirana there was already a player from Croatia, Pero Pejic; a player from Bosnia, Mladen Zhizhovic and I, from Serbia.
They had huge respect for the Yugoslav football and I was lucky, because I had played for Cervena Zvezda. You know that that Albania during Enver Hoxha’s regime wanted more Italian, more former Yugoslavai. You know that Yugoslavia has a very good football school and basketball as well. This was a plus for me”, Gvozdenovic says.
His best friend in Albania is the Croatian Pero Pejic.
“I have many friends from Albania and Kosovo, but I have spent more time with Pero Pejic. He is Croatian and there is no problem with me. We are all the same. We were together with Tirana, Kukes and Korca”, he said.
One of the most difficult problems for Gvozdenovic in Albania was October 18th 2014, after what happened in Belgrade during the Serbia-Albania match.
“I was in Macedonia, with Kukes. We were watching the match in a hotel. There were two players from Kosovo with us, from Albania. I was ashamed about what happened. It was a disappointment. I didn’t feel good. Because I have stayed here for many years and I have never had problems”, Gbozdenovic said.
He has been vice coach for Tirana for the past two years. During this time he has completed all courses for becoming a coach in Albania.
“I have the license but I am not a coach yet. Now comes the hadest part. Of course, I am ready, but the license only is not enough to guarantee a good coach. Results are the only one showing it”, he said.
Would he accept to lead a team in Kosovo?
“I would think about it. Why not? In football there is no chance to say no. We are here as neighbors, as friends, and this is football, not politics. If I had good offers I would be thinking about it very carefully, but I am not for a ‘no’”, Gvozdenovic said.