From Uvil Zajmi
Memorie.al / From Sunday to Monday, but not a week apart, but 55 years…! Yes, a little more than half a century from December 17, 1967, when Albania drew 0-0 with the Federal Republic of Germany. How do you remember today, what was the atmosphere on the eve of it? A people standing for the heroic act of Shkurte Pal Vata (“Heroine of Socialist Work”) and helping those injured by the earthquake in the districts of Dibra and Librazhdi, where the entire high leadership of the party and the state had moved and stayed, with led by Enver Hoxha and Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu! Then the match: From the absence of Gerd Müller and Franc Beckenbauer, to the giant banner that read: “Complete electrification of the village, bright work of the Party led by Comrade Enver Hoxha…”, which surprised the West Germans! The surprises of coach Lor Boriçi, the disallowed goal of Dynamo Fred Gjinali, the party at “Qemal Stafa” and the surprise elimination of Germany. The reaction of the world sports press and a rare photo published in the Dortmund Museum. What do they do today, where are the protagonists of the monumental challenge of that national team, which eliminated and left out the European ’68, Helmut Schön’s West Germany?
Continues from last issue
60-minute game, with 10 players…!
This is a very important detail of the meeting, since Korçar’s defender, Teodor Vaso, injured after a collision with Shulci, around the 30th minute, has made it impossible for him to stay on the field. Although the masseur, Ali Kastrati, did everything, it was impossible.
Given that according to the regulations of that time, substitutions were not allowed, when the first half ended, through the loudspeaker (sound center), a call was made for the doctors who were in the tribune or other steps of the stadium to come to the dressing rooms, to assist the medical staff. Although there were many who showed up, they could not treat and rehabilitate Teodor Vaso. And so, he played the entire second half. Practically, the representative team had ten players on the field.
With 10 players, doctor Heqimi: “I also went down for help”!
The well-known doctor, Prof. Dr. Lluka Heqimi remembers that moment, when from the sound center of the “Qemal Stafa” Stadium, public help was requested for the injured player: “During the break of the match, a call was made through the loudspeaker for the doctors present in the stadium to go down to the national team’s dressing room to come to the aid of the medical staff to recover the injured Vaso.
I also went down, we tried together with the doctor Ismail Feta, but it was impossible and Vaso played like that in the second 45 minutes. Practically, the team is national; it was with ten players on the field, since Vaso was non-existent”. These are the years when, due to the regulation that did not allow substitutions, during gatherings, the players were also trained as goalkeepers, to be ready to replace the goalkeeper in case of injury.
Everyone on the field, party at “Qemal Stafa” in Tirana…!
As soon as the last whistle of the Austrian referee, Marshall, has been heard, which signaled the end of the 90 minutes of the meeting, which ended with the white score 0 – 0, everyone has flooded the field. Real sports celebration in the stands and on the stadium steps, while German players are lying on the field, and many fans holding our players by their side, an indescribable enthusiasm.
The crowd of fans were able to get close to the corridors and dressing rooms, where they were prevented by the security police forces, as some of the high leadership of the party and the Albanian state were also going there (who had followed the meeting from central tribune), as the member of the Political Bureau and the secretary of the Central Committee of PPS, Ramiz Alia, the member of the Political Bureau and deputy prime minister Manush Myftiu, as well as the Chairman of the General Committee of the Union of Athletes and Bodybuilders of Albania, Rexhep Doda, who congratulated the entire team and management staff.
But everything did not end there, as the party continued long into the late hours on the streets of the capital, where bars were allowed to stay open even beyond the usual hours, where the ardent fans of the capital, but also those who came from the districts, celebrated until the late hours with beer and meatballs. In the evening, at the official dinner organized at the “Dajti” Hotel, where the West German team and the referees were arranged, a banquet was organized, where football players and leaders of both teams were invited, together with the referees.
Although in complete despair of the German staff, eliminated from the finals of Rome, thoughtless of them. But, later, after they saw projected moments from this meeting, the shooting of Gjinali sparked discussions…! Then also the compliments of the coach Helmut Schön, for his colleague Loro Boriçi.
Loro Boriçi, colossus of tactics and surprises!
Coach Boriçi had well thought out the team’s tactical placement on the field. All tall, young and energetic footballers. Regarding the goal, Mikel Janku remembered: “Before the match, Loro called me and said, Mikel, given that you conceded six goals in Dortmund, if they see you back in the goal, psychologically they are favored.” In front of Dinella, the first for him in the national team, he lined up Xux Kazanxhi and Li Mema of “17 November”, Jorgaq of “Labinot”, physically strong players even in the air, as well as the two full-backs, Gjinal of “Dinamo” ” and Vaso of “Skenderbeu”.
He strengthened the defense with an active midfield, with a more defensive strategy, where there are Rragami e Bizi of “Vllaznia”, Shllaku of “Partizani”, already experienced players. And in attack, from “Partizani” Panon and “Dinamo” Shkodran, Din Zhega, who alternated. The duels of that meeting, which is still remembered today after 55 years, were: Pano-Shulc and Vaso-Netzer!
What did the only sports newspaper, “Sporti Popullor” write?
On Tuesday, December 19, 1967, the only sports newspaper “People’s Sport”, under the big headline: “Great success of our football, People’s Republic of Albania – Federal Republic of Germany, 0-0”, among other things wrote: “Our team played for 60 minutes with ten players.
In the 79th minute, the referee had to give a penalty. Zhega moved forward and later passed the ball to Panos, towards the left wing. He entered the penalty area with zigzags, dribbled two opposing defenders and Shulci, found only one way out, knocked him to the ground inside the penalty area.
The Austrian judge, saw the “best way” to do it with his hand, signaling with the already known sign of the continuation of the game! In addition to the writing, there is a large photo of our team and the reception of the goalkeeper Volter, after the second shot by Gjinali. What is missing in this historic issue of the newspaper is the photo, when the goalkeeper Volter is clearly seen lying on the goal line, while it is when he received the ball after Gjinali’s first shot.
(In the upper part of the first page, there is also an informative article, which talks about the visit of the first secretary of the Central Committee of PPSh, Enver Hoxha to the district of Dibra, where he had gone after the powerful earthquake that had fallen in that area). Going back to the writing of the match, among other things we read that: “Our team played one for all and all for one, against a team like Germany, which did not discuss the victory”.
In the long article that follows on the third page, which has no author, but is signed with: Koresp. of “Popular Sport”, among others, it is said: “In the first half, our attack organized 15 descents that reached the vicinity of the goal. Although with a very defensive line-up, this number shows that our representative team, this match, started and finished with a balanced game, where the Shulc-Pano, Vaso-Netzer duel can be singled out”.
In addition to the technical commentary, on the page of the “Popular Sport” newspaper of that day, we also find several lines where the meeting and the result of the match are related and have political treatment. Among other things, it says: “As a monolithic team, stronger than ever, but also putting politics first, not underestimating the opponent and having great faith in one’s own strength, as the Party and Comrade Enver, the footballers fought hard and managed to eliminate the West German team……”
The world press: “The Albanian ‘lock’ is not broken”!
The match held in Tirana was given a great echo by the European and world sports press, as the result was surprising and all the more so because Helmut Schön’s great Germany saw itself outside the European, “Italy ’68”. Thus, we are recalling here briefly, some of the headlines of the biggest sport newspapers and their comments. ‘Franz Pres’: “West Germany is eliminated.
The task seemed easy, but they had not calculated the will of the Albanians, who could have won”. ‘United Pres’: “Sensational tie. The first line of the FRG did not have the strength to break the massive defense moved by the Albanians, this is also due to the inability of the Germans to break the Albanian
‘lock’, which, although with ten footballers, after the injured Vaso entered the half the second, but he was doing nothing but limping on his left arm”.
Big party in Belgrade, Yugoslavia finalist in Rome
“You eliminated us and Yugoslavia benefited” was what the West German staff said under their breath at the official dinner organized at the “Dajti” Hotel, and the result really favored Yugoslavia, not a friend of the Albanians. Meanwhile, on the central Yugoslav television channel that was broadcasting the boxing championship between the clubs, when the result of the match in Tirana was given from the loudspeaker of the Sports Palace where the activity was taking place, a huge explosion was heard, as no one had believed the surprise that would come from Albania.
Thus, in the final ranking, Yugoslavia has 6 points (three wins, 8-3 goal difference), the Federal Republic of Germany, 5 points (2 wins, 1 draw, 9-3 goal difference) and the last one is Albania, with one point in four meetings. 0-12, scoreless. Based on this ranking, in the finals to be played in June 1968 in Rome, as the first of the group, Yugoslavia would go.
Rragami, Dinella, Gjinali, Zhega also at “Vllaznia”…!
After the match, Ramazan Rragami, having ended his military service at the “Partizani” Sports Club, immediately left for Shkodër, returning to “Vllaznia”, where he played until the end of his career. In fact, in the match of December 25, 1967, for the Balkan Cup, “Vllaznia” – “Beroe”, of Stara Zagora of Romania, in the Shkodran formation, there are five players of the national team, which a week ago drew with Helmut Schön’s West Germany.
Thus, Zan Rragami, Ali Mema, Din Zhega and, together with Koço Dinella in the goal, Fred Gjinali as right defender, (the latter three of Dinamo received as reinforcements by coach Xhod Shaqiri), made “Vllaznia” to won 4-0, with goals from Selami Dani. Ali Memës, Zan Rragami and Nikolin Gjergji.
The four-year withdrawal from the activities of the Albanian national team!
After the 4-0 defeat in Belgrade and discussions about the withdrawal of the national team from official activity, although they drew with West Germany, Albania did not register for the next edition, and the FIFA Executive Committee had determined the 30 countries from Europe for the qualifying phase for the World Cup qualifiers “Mexico 1970”.
Initially, 29 teams remain, including England as the defending champion, who entered directly. After this decision, the Albanian national team did not participate in international activities for four years. The return to international activities would again be for qualifiers, but for those of “Euro 1972”, and in the group would fall: Poland, Albania, Turkey and the Federal Republic of Germany.
The first match on color TV, in the group where Albania was also
A historic day for sports television was October 7, 1967, when the meeting Federal Republic of Germany – Yugoslavia would go down in the history of television technology, as the first football match broadcast in color. Valid for the fourth qualifying group for the eliminators of the European football championship, where Albania also took part, it was played in Hamburg in front of 70,000 spectators, and was directed by the Italian referee, Concetto Lo Bello.
The first half ended with the home team leading 1-0, thanks to Lohr’s goal in the 10th minute. In the second half, due to rain and darkness, the television footage changed from color to black and white. Yugoslavia equalized in the 50th minute, through Zambata, as the referee, Lo Bello, disallowed two goals from the visitors for two clear offside positions.
Then in the final, West Germany recovered and took the lead again with the goal of Gerd Muller, in the 71st minute and increased the advantage with Uve Zeler, in the 86th minute and winning with the result 3-1. the final.
It was a victory that seemed to guarantee qualification for FRG, with the best goal difference, but the two teams had to face Albania. In the last match of the group, FRGj would stop 0-0 in Tirana, from Albania, being eliminated, and Yugoslavia, as the first in the group, will play you in the final stage of the European “Italia ’68”.
The rare photo, with the signatures of the players…!
A previously unpublished photo was also a surprise for us, when it came into our hands (BDBQ’s personal archive), photographed at the Great Sports Museum in Dortmund. There you can see the signatures of all the players, coaches, protagonists of the challenge of December 17, 1967.
The German journalist located in Tirana was able to get the signatures of the players very accurately before the start of the match, and then, years later, he sent it to the Dortmund Sports Museum where it was demonstrated as a detail much of that confrontation. Even to the firm of the doctor Ismail Feta and the dentist Pano Lulo, translator and companion of the West German team that landed in Tirana that observed afternoon of December 17, 1967.
Where are the legends of December 17, 1967 today?
Some of them have unfortunately passed away, such as: the famous trainers Loro Boriçi, Ilia Shuke and Skënder Jareci. Captain Lin Shllaku, Josif Kazanxhi, Ramazan Rragami, Medin Zhega, Frederik Jorgaqi, Panajot Pano, Ali Mema and Mikel Janku are also unfortunately no longer alive. While Koço Dinella, together with his family, is in Boston (USA), Sabah Bizi, already retired for a long time, lives in Shkodër. Fred Gjinali is also retired in Tirana, while Teodor Vason can be found in Korça, active as then.
Although the years will naturally pass, the 11-year-old, her coaches, with Boric at the head, remain monumental. With West Germany, Albania would meet again, now for the “Euro 1971” Eliminators, which would also mark the return to international activities of our representative, after a four-year break. Poland, Turkey and the Federal Republic of Germany were in the group together with Albania, and in February 1971, in “Qemal Stafa”, Albania-RF. German, another dramatic 90 minutes….”! Memorie.al