From Uvil Zajmi
Memorie.al / He would become an excellent swimmer or rower, perhaps a record holder, but life, career and fate would change him quite suddenly, to make him an excellent football player, one of the most special talents that history has revealed of Albanian football. From “Shkëndija” of the High Institute of Physical Culture, “Vojo Kushi” in Tirana, to “Luftëtari” of the stone city of Gjirokastra in the South of Albania, then “Sëltik” of Glasgut and finally “Dosja M.G.”. The first ‘spark’ in Lym Alla’s national team, unheard-of offers unique to the history of a transfer, anonymous letters and the limitless “revenge” of “Dynamo” of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which gave shivers to anyone. What is the Albanian “Bekenbauer” doing today, the one who invented the modern playing style of the free defender in the 70s, an authentic product of the famous skill of the legendary coach, Zyber Konçi?
Candidate Master, as visiting swimmer…!
Born in November 1951, in the coastal city of Saranda, in a modest family of five children, 3 sons and two daughters. Once his father had played football in the time of Italy and nothing more. They lived in economic conditions like all Albanians, in a city where fishing was primary, while swimming and a ball in a soccer field remained the square where children could have fun. Milto Gurma stands out as a dynamic boy, for who water, the sea, swimming, are the first passions and contacts that his hometown offered him, while football was very little in those beginnings! But it would be this discipline that would lure him to give him a special career, to make him one of the most talented and prominent footballers in the 70s. However, not yet 14 years old, he is a candidate for Master of Sports in rowing, rowing, and javelin throwing, even in the 50, 200, and 400 meter freestyle competitions, in the beautiful sport of swimming.
Arrival in Tirana
The year 1968. Like from all Albania, Milto Gurma also came to Tirana and was tested by giving the norms, where the coach Zyber Konçi, quite intuitive, immediately enrolled him in the newly opened Sports Mastery School. He is even in its historic group, where in January of that year, he was among the 20 young boys who were selected from all over Albania and created the first football team of a school in Tirana, with the symbolic name “Shkëndija”. Even becoming very famous in the following years…! They were: Arjan Hoxha, (Tirana) Vladimir Ajazi, (Durres) Sh. Kurti, Bujar Hushi, (Kavajë) Milto Gurma, (Saranda) Agim Medja, (Shkodër) Petrit Gjoni, (Tirana) Fisnik Kosova, (Kavajë) Leonidha Curi, (Vlora) L. Tagani, E. Zalla, Agron Bulku, ( Durrës) Gjergj Ballsho, (Korçë) Agron Sulo, (Vlorë), Vasillaq Zëri, (Tirana) Met Spahiu, (Tirana) B. Tufa, Haki Arkaxhiu, (Kavajë) Xhoxhi Puka, (Tirana) and Luan Malaj.
At “Skhëndija”, Zyber Konçi was decisive
No one knew those 16-year-olds in those days when they came from all over the country and underwent intensive training by Zyber Konçi. Milto Gurma has the features of an athlete, with a beautiful and elegant running and a vital aerobic capacity: over 4,000 meters running in the ‘Kuper’ test, swimmer’s lungs and breathing. And Zyber Konçi will be his strategist, discoverer and teacher. Gurma dedicates everything to him, starting from the first test in January ’68, even to the delicate moments of his sports career, many years later.
Debut, first goal
The history of “Skhëndija” begins with the participation in the youth championship where it is declared champion, then first place in the Second Category and immediately the debut in the National Championship of the First Category, season 1971-’72. Gurma remembers today that, when he was only 20 years old, he covered the famous Panajot Panon in the unforgettable meeting, “Skhëndija”-“Partizani”, 2-1, in October 1971 at the “Qemal Stafa” stadium (goals, Gon Sulo and Muç Fagu). At that time “Partizani” had 9 players in the national team…! Milto is not known for scoring goals, but he scored the first with “Skhëndija” in Elbasan, in the First Category. The meeting was played on Friday, “Labinoti”-“Skhëndija” 1-2. It was the match when Konçi shouted at him “don’t cross the midfield”, but when Gurma scored the goal, he stopped talking.
Even for the versatile Gurma, the roles and positions have changed: He started as a stopper with the youngsters, even in the match “Partizani” – “Skhëndija” he covered Artur Krantjen, one of the greatest talents of the time. But he also plays as a central defender (free defender), and in many moments and matches he is also activated as an advanced midfielder. He has a maturity, he plays without fear and together with Petrit Gjoni in the center, Leonidha Čurin and Kurti on the wings, they create a solid, interesting, modern defense line for the time. Even the rivalry for the team captain’s ribbon at “Skhëndija” is known as one of the great dilemmas of Zyber Konçi, who alternated between Gjon and Gurma in this role.
In the Balkan Cup
After the Champions Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup, the Balkan Cup for Albanian clubs was a very comfortable tournament for the time, as the teams ranked after the second place played there. The AFL, seeing that “Skhëndija” demonstrated a modern and contemporary football, with talented and improvising players, after a very surprising presentation in the 1971-’72 season, in the First Category, assigns it to present Albania in the edition of the year 1972, in the Balkan Cup. In the group together with “Skhendina” are “Kavalla” from Greece and “Vardari” from Skopje. Wins 2-1 in Tirana with “Kavalla” (goals Gon Sulo and Muç Fagu), loses 2-0 in Greece, while draws 1-1 and wins 1-2 in Skopje (Llaq Zëri, author of the goals). Milto Gurma is the captain of the team, which is presented well, but without being able to “Skhëndia” qualifies for the final.
Accusations about fashion, anonymous letters appear…!
He should have started with the ‘Shpresa’ team, but Milto Gurma’s European debut was immediate and of high quality, as he started as a starter in the national team in its official matches in the early 70s. But also with “Partizani”, which he takes as reinforcement in the Balkan Cup in 1973 against Larisa. While playing in Tirana, they suddenly inform him that he should not go to Greece…! His biography appears…! Although he has been to Romania, Turkey, Skopje and Kavala, he is still not allowed. Anonymous letters have been pouring in on him, mercilessly attacking him and his career. They criticize him for liking the Western world and imitating foreigners: “He has a tendency to follow fashion, wears long and straight hair and wears black” – it was written in anonymous letters about him. But, as with “Skhëndija” and with the generation and athletes of those years, the passion for emancipation and Western preferences was reflected everywhere and by everyone.
Statements and “revenge” without limits
The year 1973…! The first group of “Skhendija” has completed the three-year cycle of the “I.L.K.F.” and the players will leave to play with the clubs of the cities from which they came. Everyone settles down and together with them, Gurma waits for the appointment, which “Partizani” and “Dinamo” are particularly interested in. Even under the influence of Beqir Balluku (Minister of People’s Defense) and Petri Dumes (Chief of the General Staff of the Army), he was appointed to the United Officers’ School “Enver Hoxha”, in Tirana, as a lecturer. Meanwhile, before finishing the “Mastership”, Gurma made a statement: that he wants to stay at “Partizani”, thus rejecting “Dinamo”. But the latter, between the Ministry of the Interior, interfered with Thoma Deliana, (at that time the Minister of Education) and Gurma’s documents, were deliberately withdrawn and kept in this department, preventing and postponing without motive, the file to go to the Ministry of Protection.
Educator and football player
Only a short time passed, when he received a surprise announcement and appointment: Lecturer at the “Sports Mastery School” that depended on the Ministry of Education. So, neither at “Partizani”, nor at “Dinamo”, nor in Saranda, nor at the “United School”. In Tirana, but at “Mještria”, where he stayed for 1 year as a teacher and football player at the same time. During the week, he trained players like Hasan Lika, Agustin Kola, Kristaq Eksarko, etc., who had just arrived at the school, while on Saturday, as captain, he played with “Skhendija”, where Ilir Luarasi, Il Metani, Sul Starova, Aastrit were also present. Hafizi, Muç Fagu, etc. The appointment as a lecturer given by the Ministry of Education, conditioned by the Ministry of the Interior, was the motive to postpone and keep under pressure the transition to “Partizani”. Calm and waiting, he still hadn’t understood anything about a “revenge” that has just begun, and that will follow him until the end of his career…!
While he was a lecturer at “Mještria”, “Partizani” tried to use a trick: It’s time to circulate the staff, a party initiative of the time and leaders of the Ministry of Defense intervened to circulate Gurma, in order to make it easier to get it. They asked and tried for the documents to go to Saranda, and then take it. In that year, a delegation of the “Partizani” Club, with Deputy Chief Mikel Janku and Coach Kolec Kraja, left for Saranda, to discuss with Gurma himself and the District Party Committee, since the “Butrinti” Club was not asked about this case. . The talks did not have a positive end, there were vacillations from all sides and the attempt failed.
Zbori 6 months in Gjirokastra
Gurma was forced to perform the already 6-month post-university military choir and was assigned to Gjirokastër, where he can also play with the “Warrior” Club during this period. The documents are in Saranda and in the “battle” that will get it, the Girocastrians are smarter. Based on the luck that brought a player of this caliber to this city, the desire to play in Gjirokastra a star like him, using the “order” of the Ministry of the interior, attempts began, talks with Saranda, who has and fanatically keeps the “M.G. File”. To use it later as a “market and barter”.
“Hostile military groups”
Just at the time when he hoped that he could finally be transferred to “Partizani”, the big blow of the major military comes: “enemy coup groups” are discovered and the situation worsens to Gurma’s disadvantage. No one is interested; no one has the courage to open the letters and his case, so the transition to “Partizan” is fading. “Partizani”, although he had interceded for the procession to be held in Gjirokastër, to make it easier to withdraw it after its completion, now leaves things somewhat in abeyance…! The thoughtless and unexpected change in the political situation means that the documents go to Saranda, his hometown, while there is already interest from “Luftetari” for him to stay in Gjirokastër.
Committee: We Milton, you asphalt for Muzina
Such was the mentality of the time, that when you hear it today you are amazed. There were no classic transfers, many movements were conditioned by leaders and rulers, but this one of Gurma is unique and unheard of. Since the Chairman of the Party Committee in Saranda, was of Girokastri origin and using the situation as well as the “desire” to keep the file so that it would not go to “Partizan” in Tirana, under constant pressure from “Luftetari”- t, he makes a very original and fantastic proposal-offer to the Party Committee of Gjirokastra: “Pave the road and the Muzina Pass with asphalt so that we can give you Milto Gurma”. After this “exchange with clearing”, his career is determined and takes direction: He is now a footballer of “Luftari”.
In Gjirokastra, five seasons
He played with “Luftari” for five seasons, 1974-1979. There he finds Bahri Ishka, the coach, who activated him in almost all roles, midfield, and defense, everywhere…! But there are also Sefedi Braho, Kalluci, Curri, Boni, Seiti, Kasmi. They gave him a house, he started working in education and for Gurma, Nedin Hoxha and Jani Boshnjaku (the two holders of the Executive Committee and the Party Committee of the district), are unforgettable, as they supported him to the maximum and he is also very grateful to them. Then the public, the fans, were the ones for whom he played with flesh and soul. He remembers a very touching moment: He was injured; he was hospitalized, when they told him: “Just go out and stay in the stadium even though you are not playing.” He was on the field recovered, but not completely, when “Luftari” was given a penalty against “Tomorri”. No one shot him; they looked for him and waited for him to hit him. With one foot he hit from the white spot, realizing. When he was with the “Warrior” he always won in the survey of the best 11 of the team of the year.
With ‘Selltik’, from Glasgow, the last chance
June 1979. It is the year when Milto Gurma leaves Gjirokastra and returns to Saranda, very bored and waiting for a transfer, as a last attempt to “Partizani”. He is 28 years old. Meanwhile, “Partizan”, trained by coaches Bejkush Birçe and Panajot Pano, was in Pogradec, preparing for the challenge against “Sëltik” in the Champions Cup. The eldest son of Enver Hoxha, being there on vacation, meets with the leaders of the Club, who tell him about the Gurma case. Along with his interest in having the documents go to Tirana, “Partizani” plays the reinforcement card, calling Gurma to the gathering, as a formation player against the Scots. Zyber Konçi, at that time the Chairman of the ALF, wants the documents to come to him in Tirana, as a necessary condition, since such an action gave the opportunity to federate with “Partizani”, because without it you could not play against Seltiku’. Although Gurma continued to train with “Partizani”, the file remained in silence, covered with dust and oblivion, in an office somewhere in a city in the South of Albania and just a few hours before the meeting with “Sëltik”, while the team travels to Tirana, Gurma, now hopeless, abandons the gathering and returns to the “Warrior”.
When “Partizani” offered 6 players…?!
While he had finished his stay by closing the cycle with the “Warrior” of Gjirokastra, Gurma had already returned to Saranda and the leaders of “Partizani” intervened again, proposing to the Saranda District Party Committee, an almost unbelievable offer: “We give Milton, we’ll give you 6 soldier players, for the ‘Butrint’ team. But the answer was dry, even more than silence, after which hopes were lost forever and “Dosja M.G.”, never came to Tirana. Even, together with Milton, he stayed and finally remained in Saranda, where they are still today. The transfer to “Partizan” was not carried out in order to never be realized, extinguishing once and for all the dream that remained just that. This was the second failure. The “revenge” had been long and merciless, always after the silent intervention of “Dinamo”, which did not forgive the refusal to play in its ranks.
The great gate of Myslym Alla
Gurma is the first player of “Skhëndija” who has played with the national team. It was to the credit of Myslym Alla, the coach those years that he approached him, trusted him and even activated him in the representative team. In Romania, he was stunned by the local team, when Pano told him: “Get ready, you will be in the lineup.” He imitated the legends of West Germany, Beckenbauer and Netzer, whose game he followed, studied with care and attention in every detail. He saw them with adoration and passion, he liked their “noble” style, which he tried to demonstrate best in the Albanian fields. He does not forget the moment when he saw them up close at “Qemal Stafa”, at the Albania-Germany meeting, in February ’71. He never had the luck to meet them and play against them. At the peak of form, fame and great hope, Albanian football itself was separated for three years, from European confrontations!
Chronicle of a national team
Who was this young footballer who would play alongside the giants of the time? Even in a difficult transfer, like the one on October 29, 1972, in Bucharest, in the Romania-Albania 2-0 match? Along with four players from “Partizani” and “Dinamo”, two from “Vllaznia”, Coach Lym Alla surprised Milto Gurma who came from “Skhëndija”, putting him in the lineup. Then on April 8, 1973, in the next challenge for the World Cup qualifiers, in Magdeburg, Albania-German Democratic Republic 2-0, Alla puts him in the starting line-up again. After a month, in Tirana against Romania, in the deep defeat 1-4, Gurma is not in the lineup. To be returned at the end of the year by Ilia Shuke, in the meeting Albania-Finland 1-0, as a substitute for Naim Allaj, who had his birthday that day and turned 20 years old, which was highlighted by the famous commentator Ismet Bellova, during the broadcast of the match. For three years to come there are no international matches with representatives and clubs and in the first friendly match against Algeria in Tirana (3-0, on October 10, 1976), Loro Boriçi returns to the national team. In that season, he plays with the “Warrior” and that meeting will be the last with the red and black colors. Although he will try the taste of the national team once again a little later….!
From the third category, to the national…!
The end of the career, which I end playing in the third category, is a little enthusiastic. May 1986, “Prerenjasi”-“Butrinti”, his last match. But, precisely in this period, he suddenly receives a surprise invitation: Even though he plays and has somehow lost his name by being active in the inferior categories, he was called to a one-week gathering with the National Team. The cause was the “Sporti Popullor” newspaper, which treated him with superlatives after the “Butrinti”-“Besëlidhja” match, the final in Elbasan, where he shines and is the best on the field, as his talent and strength have not betrayed him. Then at the end there is a rare episode: “Partizan” came to Saranda (with 6 players who were active in the national team) and in a friendly with “Butrinti”, he scored 3 goals. It is said that after that meeting, Bejkush Birçe said the famous expression: “For Milto Gurma, I would give a bag of dollars, or all my wealth, to have him in the team”!
What was and did the “Gurma” style represent?
Who was Milto Gurma, the model footballer, the first to transform and create the modern style of a defender and midfielder, a ‘Bekenbauer-Netzer’ combination, for the way he played? High technical ability, a defender, midfielder, striker with well-defined characteristics: Elegance in possession and handling of the ball, unusual elegant stops and shots, with the outside of the foot and a refined peripheral look. A perfection of coordination in running, passing and accurate and quick shots, made him stand out in Albanian football in the early 70s. Every intervention is safe and every demonstration of it is almost on the verge of perfection. Every movement is accompanied by an interweaving of perfect technique, everything in stance and movement. The elegant coach Zyber Konçi had the sense, courage and confidence to throw him on the field, support and encourage his game, creating spaces for the incursions he undertook. The interpretation of the role of the free defender by Milto Gurma, quite rare for the time, is also of historical importance as he revolutionized the game of this role, with a classic use of the ball with both feet and head up, circling it with thought and, without seeing the sphere. To distance himself from the departures and kicks without an address, typical of a natural center back in those years.
What is the Albanian “Bekenbauer” doing today?
Married to Kristina Cilingir, former athlete, (also from “Mještria Sportive”), parents of 3 children, (two girls and a boy), Gurma has been living and working in Saranda for years. After the 90s, he tried as a coach in Greece, and then returned to his hometown as a coach with the ages, being at the same time a Physical Education teacher. Among the children, there is a football player son with “Olympic-Volon” in Greece, who was also announced as the “Golden Shoe” of the Second Category, the best of the foreigners in this category, in the neighboring country, already transferred to Italy. Milto Gurma already keeps memories and has appreciation for Zyber Konçi, Lym Alla and Bahri Ishka, but also for Ben Jorgoni, with whom he always discussed. There is gratitude for many footballers and coaches: Zan Rragami, Sabah Bizi, Mejit Haxhiu, Jani Kaçi, Perlat Musta, Ilir Lame, Tur Angoni, Dash Bajaziti, Kujtim Pagria, Bujar Hushi, Agron Sulo, Tut Leshteni, Arjan Hoxha, Panajot Pano, Ben Çela, Muç Fagu, Astrit Hafizi, Spiro and Leonidha Çurri, etc. He keeps a special regard for Agim Janku, as well as for Llaq Zëri, with whom he secretly spoke Greek, when they were watching TV at his house in the late hours after midnight. Without forgetting the arbritras. He remembers because he has no cards in his career. “Like a cotton lion, when Milto steps on you, you don’t understand anything” – was everyone’s opinion and opinion.
Myslym Alla’s joke
The coach, the legendary professor, Myslym Alla, with a special and well-known philosophy, was one of the people who stimulated him a lot in his career. Asked at a seminar with coaches and specialists about Milto Gurma’s style of play, he said: “What can I say about a player like Milto Gurma…? The ball at Gurma’s feet is safer than the money in the Swiss banks…”! Memorie.al