From Uvil Zajmi
The first part
Memorie.al / “In life and on the field, I have always been divided… composed of two people together, him and me and someone else outside and far from me. And, each of us, has lived his life separately, but we have removed the sufferings together, I his and he mine. My life has oscillated between shadow and light, hope and its absence…”, says Mejit Haxhiu. A rare story about one of the prominent national football players, Mejit Haxhiu. The difficulties of life, the unjust punishment, the career with “Flamurtari” and “Partizani”, until the meeting after half a century with the fugitive father. What does he do today who played a censored football, always under surveillance, although he was among the outstanding talents of the time, but banned? Where and how does the goalscorer, the master of shooting, who was recruited three times by Partizan and transferred to Lushnje to exchange for an agronomist, live? How and why did the Cultural-Chinese Revolution hit Haxhiu, the exclusion from football after returning to Vlora and when they threatened him not to score a goal against Dinamo?
Football at “Cold Water”…!
Barefoot football on the causeway, on the sand of the beach, coal, gravel, drinking water at Uncle Brahim’s well, to quench thirst, there at the first field of Rapi to Ferri at “Cold Water”…! He even played in the role of goalkeeper in his early years…! A small elastic ball bought by my mother, then with Qerim, Nexhmi, Xhevit, Hasan, Baçi, the “Rapi” team was declared the champion of the “Uji i Ftohte” neighborhood. He was only 10 years old, but her captain. Small in stature, at the age of 15, the city’s doctors stopped him from playing, as they suspected a cardiac anomaly.
In economic difficulties, the coaches gave her a food stamp more, since out of four members of the family, they lived on one salary of the mother, as a laborer in heavy work. He stood out as he had good possession of the ball and was quite technical. Then the activity with the schools and the National Spartakiad in Durrës with the pioneers. He also represented Vlora in basketball and swimming in 50 m. freestyle, in the age championships in Currila of Durrës. He is active with the high school team “Ali Demi” in the local high school activity, he is declared champion and as a reward, they give him an amount of 300 ALL (old).
With young people, it is revealed as a talent, only 175 cm. tall
Mejit Haxhiu made his first appearance in 1959. It was December, when he became active with the youth team of “Flamurtari” coached by Vasil Ndini, together with Saraçi, Thomai, Zeqiri, Dëmbi, Davidi, Sulo, etc. At that time, they played in youth matches with the first team that took place every Thursday
in front of the public. In March 1960, the youth championship begins, and in the old field “Flamurtari” (the stadium was under construction), they play against “17 November B” of Xhavi Demner.
Mexiti was activated for only 45 minutes and “Flamurtari” won 1-0. He attracts the attention of Coach Isuf Pelinku, who, even though he is a youth contingent, takes him with the first team for friendly meetings, newspaper cup matches, etc. Before he turned 17, he gathered with “Flamurtari” for two international friendly matches, which will be played in Vlora. With the dream of becoming like Loro Boriçi and the Brazilian Edosn Pele, with the number 9 on the jersey, he scores goals with the youth, plays well, he is already a promising player. In 1961, in his first meeting with the “Flamurtari” team in Tirana, on “November 17”, there was a rare event, as a solar eclipse interrupted the meeting.
Punishment by the math teacher…!
Mejhiti was inclined towards mathematics, but: “The teacher of this subject, Janaq Syko, after asking ‘who is this?’, frowned and put me down, as if I was guilty and for everything that happened, he called me to the director threatening me: ‘We know who you are, where is your father…’ Haxhiu recalls. It was this teacher, then an instructor in the Party Committee, who did not leave him when he accompanied the team and when he started his career as a coach. Although a good student, he was never on the honor roll and, for political reasons, his relatives turned their backs on him, and even his family did not allow him to participate in New Year’s parties, in the youth organization, or in neighborhood gatherings.
After he finished high school, for two years they did not give him the right to go to higher education or to work! In a difficult economic situation in the family, Manush appeared before Mufti, during a visit to Vlora, and asked him for education and a job. After being informed about the father, he does not reply. Then, the request for work addressed to the First Secretary of the Party of Vlora, but he also received a negative response. “It would be Isuf Pelingu, the coach of the team, who, together with the district prosecutor, Enver Ickë, secured me employment”, Haxhiu recalls.
It is called “soldier by mistake”…!
In the 1961-62 football seasons, he played in the championship, in the 50th Independence Cup with “Flamurtari”. In the summer of 1963, when his name was mentioned as a talent, Besim Fagu and Loro Boriçi went to Vlora, who, even though Mexit Haxhiu was young, mobilized him to perform military service with “Partizani”. “I didn’t even think about it,” Haxhiu confesses, “since it was a military club, it went abroad, which required a political guarantee, but at home I received the summons and I was assigned to military department 5310, the work department in Tirana “, remembers Mejhiti.
The team was gathered at “Plepat” in Durrës for the Champions Cup match, but even though he only had a week of training with “Partizani”, the club commissioner called him and informed him that he was “made a mistake as a soldier”, demobilizing him . The letter about his biography from Vlora, then the order not to play with the military club, had forced the managers of the “Partizani” club to change their attitude. He returns to Vlora, stays for almost 1 month and becomes a soldier again.
At “Partizani”, for the second time
After a one-week experience, not even a month passes; Mejiti is called a soldier again. In August, he goes to Korça, where “Partizani” was gathered. Unknown to the public, his activism in the sports environment arouses interest and soon it was reported that Haxhiu, from Vlonia, had returned to “Partizani”. The 1963-’64 championship begins, there are some friendly matches against “17 November” and “Traktori” of Lushnja, while coach Boriçi has appointed him in the formation, the order comes to replace him, although Besim Fagut’s efforts as the head of the club , were huge to get him into the game.
They advised him to warm up in the stadium corridor with socks and someone else’s shirt, to enter the game without being recognized by the officials. Boriçi was the one who suffered the most from the situations that were created around him, hesitating to tell Haxhiu not to undress, since someone else was undressing. He systematically activated it in friendly matches, during the preparations in Korça and Pogradec, but he did not play against “Spartak” of Plovdiv in the Champions Cup in 1963, nor even in the Championship of the Armies of the Socialist countries in Hanoi, although he had taken the photos, took the measurement of the suit, the number of shoes, and even had the vaccinations done.
He plays the day before the departure, against the “Skënderbeu” team from Korça. From the top of the army party, a clear order was given that he and Teodor Vaso should not go, suggesting that they stay with relatives in Tirana, and not to appear at the Sports Club, until the team returned from Vietnam. Two months of training in solitude, without any treatment, even on New Year’s Eve together with Vaso, they celebrate with a “hallva and gear”.
In Lushnja, the exchange with an agronomist…!
Seeing that it is difficult to stay at “Partizani”, he asks Besim Fagu to transfer him to a district team. In February 1964, they started him in Gjirokastër, but stopped him in Lushnjë, in the labor ward in the village of Dushk, informing him that they had “exchanged” him with an agronomist, although the party leaders wanted to take him to Vlorë. “I only played one friendly “Tractor” – “Besa”, when an order from the Ministry of Defense announced that I would switch to “Partizani” again, Mejhiti remembers his first vicissitudes, due to his “bad biography”.
Meanwhile, he plays as an organizer with “Partizani”, just returned from Hanoi, in the Cup of the Republic, scores goals, when the next order comes: Transfer to Vlora, biography becomes the reason again, even getting him off the “Partizani” bus that was getting ready to leave for Gjirokastra. Meanwhile, his activation with “Flamurtari” was not allowed by the FFA regulations, but in Vlora, a Chinese sports delegation went to visit and a “revolt” of some fans caused the Chinese to ask what forced the leaders to allow activation for students and soldiers and he wears the “Flamurtari” shirt again.
In April 1964, he scored two goals in the victory against “Tomorri” of Berat in Vlora and in May, with a spectacular goal in the 1-1 draw with “17 November”, he ended that football season. “Fifth place in the ranking, but even there I didn’t continue for long, only five months, after “Partizani” called me, already for the third time”, confesses Mejhiti.
Under the supervision of Beqir Balluku and Petri Dumas
The reason for his third transfer was a tournament in the spring of 1964, when the Military Corps Championship was organized in Tirana, whose matches were difficult and demanding, since in the composition of those teams, there were quality players who were active even in the main clubs. Haxhiu was the starter of “Granite” (Coastal Fleet Artillery Team), one of the best teams of the tournament. He scored goals, was a protagonist and the matches were followed by many military personnel, including the Minister of People’s Defense, Beqir Balluku and the Chief of Staff, Petrit Dume, etc. On the occasion of the army holiday, on July 10, 1964, the Vlora garrison team, where Haxhiu also plays, beat “Flamurtari” 6-2, with four of his goals.
The third transfer
Among the controversies, the preferences of the generals to be a player of the “Partizani” Club, departures and approaches, after seeing him in the military tournament, the idea arises for him to come to “Partizani” again. On the eve of the 1964-’65 seasons, “Flamurtari” wins the “Bashkimi” Newspaper Cup and the first match of the championship, played in Korça against the local “Skënderbeu”. Before the meeting at the hotel, a military garrison asks the club not to activate Haxhiu. But the leaders of Vlonia, who did not want him to leave, have used a trick, presenting another footballer to the garrison, with the promise that they will not activate him.
After returning from Korça and when they saw him playing, a military patrol waited for him in front of the house, informing them that he had broken the order of the Minister of National Defense, as he should not have played in Korça, because “Partizani”, the had designed in the formation against ‘Football Club’ Cologne, in the European Champions Cup. Although it was the fault of those who ordered him and not of Haxhiu, (who knew nothing), since he was still a soldier, sanctions were imposed on him, first of all, not activating him with “Flamurtari”, not even in training nor permission to leave the ward. He stays in Vlora until December 1964, plays several matches including a part of the game in Durrës against “Lokomotiva”, (where they send him in a car), when at the end of the year, he is transferred for the third time to “Partizani” “, by order of the Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General Beqir Balluku, but his delayed activation starts in March 1965 against “Vllaznia” of Shkodra.
With “Partizan” Mejhiti played until September of 1966 and it was Coach Rexhep Spahiu, who with his professional sense placed him as a central midfielder, as well as in the national team, although with “Flamurtari” he played as a left forward, advanced. Haxhiu was a good organizer; he had the intuition of a striker, especially in penalty kicks, or those from a distance. In “Partizani” he joins Mikel Janku, Fatbardh Deliallis, Miço Ndin, Gani Merje, Iljza Dingu, F. Jorgaq, S. Gjika, M. Gjika, Frashëri, M. Karriq, Osman Mema, Millan Vaso, Ramazan Rragami, Foto Andonin , Saba Bizin, Zahon, Tomorr Shehun, E. Gjocin, Agim Dizdarin, Sinjarin, Robert Jasharin, Lin Shllaku, and in particular with Panajot Panon.
In formation from the survey, but also supervised
In October 1964, Haxhiu scored a goal in a friendly match against Algeria, after an assist from Panos, and although he was appreciated by coach Zyber Konçi, he was not picked for the next match against the Netherlands in Tirana and the one in Ireland. Arriving at the Army Convalescence to announce who would travel to Northern Ireland, when he saw that he was not on the list, Haxhiu went in front of the car of a senior leader, asking for the motive, but… “To have faith in the Party”, was his answer.
Meanwhile, on the eve of the international challenge for the World Cup qualifiers “England ’66”, the newspaper “Sporti Popullor” announces a survey regarding the formation of the national team, for the April 11 match against Switzerland in Tirana: Mikel Janku, Fatbardh Deliallisi, Skënder Halili, Fatmir Frashëri, Ali Mema, Mejit Haxhiu, Lin Shllaku, Vorfi, Mehdi Bushati, Panajot Pano and Niko Xhaçka are the ones who play in “Qemal Staff”. He was activated with the ‘Shpresa’ team in a friendly in May 1965 against Cuba and again in the national team formation, in the unforgettable meeting between Albania and Northern Ireland, in the historic 1-1 draw against the famous Xorxh Best.
In the spring of 1966, “Partizan” was assigned to play in the Balkan Cup and the first three meetings will be held in Varna, Bulgaria, against “Cherno-More”, against “UTAH” from Arad in Romania and against “Fenerbahçe”. ‘In Istanbul. Before the departure, a meeting of Petri Dumas with players and managers, shaking Haxhiu’s hand, to show him that he too would travel with the team. But the State Security had tasked one of the football players, even his close friend, to watch him, who, as soon as they arrived in Varna, killed by his conscience, appeared to him advising him: “I have been ordered to guard you, don’t talk about nothing”!
Banana trajectory, goals and emotions…!
His kick has been called “leopard shot”, “ultrapotent”, while the one over the wall: “banana trajectory”, since he had one. There are many goals achieved during his career, in the battle for goalscorers with Panon, Pilika, Zhega, Jashar, Bushat, Cheço, Hyka, Përnaska, Biz, Kalluci, etc. He remembers that he scored the last goal with “Partizani” in a friendly against “Dinamo”, with a header from 16 meters in September 1966.
Then the five penalties taken in the National Spartakiad against “Vllaznia”, but the record from the penalty spot is when of the 12 penalties scored against “Besëlidje” of Lezha for the Cup of the Republic, (played in Vlora in 1970), 2 were missed and qualified friends, who accomplished a more. Then the meeting in Shkodër, on October 15, 1972: It was tied at 1-1 after the advantage of Shkodran, who deepened the result to 3-1, when the first 45 minutes ended. Then 4-1 and 5-1, so much so that in the stadium they didn’t have numbers for the scoreboard, if it was a goal. But a goal by Haxhiu and another by Spiro Çuri, with an assist from Haxhiu, make it 5-3.
It’s the last minutes, when Haxhiu has surprisingly hit from a long distance, almost 40 meters and goal in the goal from the city. There is anxiety in the remaining minutes and eventually 5-4 for “Vllaznina”, where there is no shortage of applause from the Shkodra fans for the Vlonja master. But in Shkodër he also scored the goal in May 1976, one of the last in his career. Then in the championship, remember the one against “November 17” where “Partizani” won 2-0, with goals by Haxhiu, who made a volley and another by Panos.
The day when the stadium in Vlora “collapsed”…!
The 1965-’66 football seasons will start with Coach Xhep Spahiu, instead of Loro Boriçi. They are friendly meetings, and after a 0-3 loss in Kavaja with “Besa”, nervous about the defeat, the senior leaders of the Defense Department ordered some football players to be sent to the work department in the hills of Kashari to open tunnels as a punishment including Haxhiun, Teodor Vaso, Zan Rragami, Rrem Karriqin and Qolje. Only one week of work, to return tired to the Club and resume training.
He starts the season with a goal against “Dinamo” in a friendly, which follows with the same result 1-0 against “Lokomotiva” of Durrës, again with Haxhiu scoring. In “Qemal Stafa”, “Partizani” will be played – “November 17”, it is the meeting that is known as the “collapse” of the stadium. “Partizani” leads with 12 full points in 6 games, while Tirana has 10. In an atmosphere never experienced before, Qolja scores in the 7th minute from the city gate, surprising everyone.
At the beginning of the second half, a loud shocking scream was heard: “We didn’t understand what had happened, – remembers Haxhiu, – when the fans broke through the inner fence and jumped onto the field of play and the match stopped. Then we were informed that the stands in front of the tribune had collapsed, which luckily did not cause any casualties. The game resumed after 20 minutes and with Gim Janku, the hero of the meeting, “Partizani” won 1-0″. Memorie.al
The next issue follows