NUHIU HAS ALBANIA WONDERING ´WHAT IF?´
ADNAN JANUZAJ, the Manchester United star who this week snubbed England by declaring his allegiance to Belgium, has one thing in common with Sheffield Wednesday’s Atdhe Nuhiu.
They have both turned their backs on playing for their native Albania.
Nuhiu had a choice to make over his international future, having been born in the former socialist state of Yugoslavia.
The 24-year-old Nuhiu grew up in Pristina, the capital of the state of Kosovo, largely made up of an Albanian population.
But the striker has spent most of his career in Austria, starting as a 16year-old for FC Wels before moving on to Austria Kärnten and Rapid Vienna before the Owls came calling last summer.
Januzaj’s combination of family heritage and residential issues meant a number of countries, including England, could lay claim to his services.
For Nuhiu, a former Austria U21 international, the decision appeared much simpler, but it was still tough to say no to the country of his birth.
“Quite a few of us have had to make this decision, Xherdan Shaqiri and Valon Behrami have chosen Switzerland,” said Nuhiu.
“It is different for every player, but I think Adnan, like me, has made the right choice.
“Albania would have a very good team if it had worked out the right way, but it will be a while before they reach the next level.
“It’s difficult to turn down your homeland, but Austria is where I have made my career, I have played for them since the U17s.
“Now I am in good form I hope there is a chance for me to get involved with the senior national team.”
Nuhiu’s form of late could certainly warrant an international call-up. Four goals in three games prior to this weekend has steered Wednesday clear of relegation trouble.
More importantly for Nuhiu, his newfound form has helped him find a new home in South Yorkshire.
“I am pleased the goals are coming, I feel like it is reward for all my hard work,” he added.
“Since I arrived at the club it has been difficult, you have to adapt to a new style of football to feel comfortable and that always takes time.
“But I have worked hard, even when the goals were not coming and I was not in the team, and now finally it is starting to happen.
“But there are 11 men on the pitch and, while I have scored the goals, it is not possible without them.
“If we can start next season the way we have finished this one then we are a team with real potential.
“It is important we can hold on to guys like Chris Kirkland, Glenn Loovens – they are experienced and are very important to the team.
“This is a great club with great support and it is time that we were back in the Premier League, and, hopefully, my goals can continue next year and I can help the team some more.”
IN FINE FORM: Atdhe Nuhiu’s goals have helped to secure safety for Sheffield Wednesday Inset: Adnan Januzaj