Albania gives citizenship to Brazilian coach Sylvinho who has led team to Euro 2024

Albania hopes to keep Sylvinho as the coach in a bid to reach the 2026 World Cup for the first time. Sylvinho’s current deal ends after next summer’s Euro in Germany.
Prime Minister Edi Rama invited President Bajram Begaj and Sylvinho to the podium of the “Best of 2023” gala for the ceremony. (Photo | Twitter, @AlbanianFooty)
Prime Minister Edi Rama invited President Bajram Begaj and Sylvinho to the podium of the “Best of 2023” gala for the ceremony. (Photo | Twitter, @AlbanianFooty)

TIRANA, ALBANIA: Albania coach Sylvinho, a Brazilian, received Albanian citizenship on Monday in a show of appreciation for qualifying the tiny Western Balkan country for the European Championship.

Albania reached Euro 2024 atop a group including the Czech Republic and Poland. It’s only the second time the country has qualified.

Prime Minister Edi Rama invited President Bajram Begaj and Sylvinho to the podium of the “Best of 2023” gala for the ceremony.

“Today, together and due to the president, we declare you an Albanian citizen,” Rama said.

“I am signing a legal contract (with Sylvinho) legalizing him as an Albanian,” Begaj said before handing him a passport.

An emotional Sylvinho remembered his journey from Sao Paolo to London then Spain, back to Britain, then Italy and “landed in Tirana, a beautiful land, a beautiful country.”

In 2004, Sylvinho obtained a Spanish passport after completing three years’ residency there.

Albania hopes to keep Sylvinho as the coach in a bid to reach the 2026 World Cup for the first time. Sylvinho’s current deal ends after next summer’s Euro in Germany.

Albania also gave citizenship to Italian coach Giovanni de Biasi after he ushered Albania to Euro 2016.

Rama said de Biasi, who was present, showed that going to the European finals was not an impossible dream.

All of the national team also received the diplomatic passport “as ambassadors of the Albanian state,” Rama added.

Albania is in a tough Group B at Euro 2024 alongside Italy, Croatia and Spain.

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