Wednesday, August 4

North Macedonia, a Cinderella defended by the president and a player from the same club


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The day after Finland’s appearance at the ‘Euro Premieres’, it is the turn of North macedonia, who for the first time goes to the final phase of a great international competition with a suitcase loaded with nerves, but also with dreams and illusions. A great success for the selection of a country that in recent years has modified its flag and acquired a new name, but in which the myth of Goran Pandev (Strumica, July 27, 1983), a veteran-turned-idol of several generations in this small Balkan territory. A player with a goal for history, the one who signed the qualification for the European in which Austria awaits him today (6:00 p.m.). A scorer who speaks with a strong Italian accent because he has two decades playing in Calcio clubs and that in his selection he shares jokes and costumes with a forward who is part of the squad of the team that presides over the Macedonian first division. A curious case.

Always recognizable on the grass by the entrances that from a young age began to depopulate his hair, Pandev’s goal to Georgia in the playoff final (0-1) sealed the historic qualification for this European Championship, a goal that flooded the streets of the cities of North Macedonia with fans. The country of two million inhabitants in which the forward was born while still the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and which he left in 2001 to sign for Inter, although he did not make his debut with that shirt until 2010, the year in which the Milan team, with Mourinho on the bench, managed to lift the League, Cup and Champions League. The triplet. That was an unforgettable year for a Pandev that was more effective for his work than for his contribution to the filmmaker (only three goals). A team footballer far from egos who never spares a drop of sweat. Neither in his clubs, nor in his selection, in which he appears as captain, top scorer and the player with the most internationals (114). An idol, also a guy with character.

Expansion across Europe

Igor Angelovski and its players have already made history, but the Balkan Cinderella wants to repeat bombastic headlines in her country’s press. It is not easy, but they have the weapons to try to surprise beyond the physical strength of a group of tireless footballers who have gradually made their way into the big leagues. In a combination where the young man draws attention Elif Diamond, a 21-year-old Naples midfielder, who causes fear with the ‘Spanish’ cannon Enis Bardhi (Levante) in the fouls, the threat above continues to wear the surname Pandev even though he is no longer a child. A multifaceted figure in football. Scorer for Genoa, for whom he has played for six years, the forward founded in 2014 a team called to be a kind of training center for the young people of his native Strumica. Goals, promotions and change of plans. The Pandev Academy He ended up making the leap to the elite and, just three years after his birth, the international also became one of the presidents of the Macedonian first division, the category in which he remains.

President and player of the same club defending the North Macedonia team on the grass, an unprecedented image in a European Championship. Marjan Radeski, 26-year-old forward, is the only representative of Akademija in a tournament that has overwhelmed the illusion in one of the poorest countries in Europe. Tose Proeski, in the capital Skopje, is the only stadium approved by UEFA to host international matches. Goran Pandev, the chief, makes the Macedonians dream.

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