TSCHAEN / SIPA
Saturday late afternoon (5 p.m.), FC Nantes travels to Marseille, to play its third match of the week.
Albanian Lorik Cana remembers the good times spent in these two clubs and also talks about his love for his country's jersey.
The death of Diego Maradona, "an extraordinary character", touched him.
He follows "with a little more particular eye" all the clubs in which he has been.
President of a foundation which allows young Albanians to have access to sports facilities, Lorik Cana, 37, has not left the world of football.
The one who played for four years in Marseille (2005-2009) and, briefly, in Nantes (2015-2016) looks back on his career in these two cities before the meeting between them on Saturday (5 p.m.) at the Vélodrome.
You were a very popular player in Marseille.
What are your fondest memories with OM?
Before becoming an OM player, I was a fervent supporter.
Since the age of 7-8, I grew up with the famous generation of the early 1990s. From there was born this love for Olympique de Marseille.
Afterwards, when I had the opportunity to go play it, it was a bit like a childhood dream come true.
The first match with the OM jersey is something quite special.
You have to be worthy to wear this jersey.
It shows itself on a daily basis, in relation to your attitude, the passion on the field… My only small regret is not having been able to be champion with OM during my last year but apart from that, it was an extraordinary period.
Do you have a preference between OM and PSG?
I owe a lot to PSG because it is the club that allowed me, in a difficult time, to be able to continue to live from my passion.
This is the club with which I won my first trophy.
I also participated in the Champions League so Paris is a club that I can not deny.
On the contrary, I have a lot of gratitude towards the club, a lot of pride to have played there and it is a club to which I will always be attached.
Afterwards, as I said, OM remains special for me.
Do you always follow OM's results, even from a distance?
Yes of course I have always done it and it is something I will always do.
I am generally all the clubs in which I have played, whether it is OM, PSG, Galatasaray, Lazio, even Sunderland which went down to the third division and then FCN too.
The clubs you've been to, you remain a little bit of a supporter.
Why did you choose FCN for your last season?
I have always preferred cities with a great passion and therefore for my last year, the FCN was the best choice to finish.
La Beaujoire is a stadium always full, the supporters always behind.
There is also a little more pressure, but that's what makes football so beautiful.
I wanted to bring my international football experience and mentor the young people a bit with other experienced players like Vizcarrondo.
I had very good relations with Michel Der Zakarian [the coach].
We could have had a better season.
I absolutely would have liked to be even more present on the pitch and in terms of my performance, but given my physical condition, it was almost impossible for me to give more.
In 2016, it was the first time that Albania qualified for the Euro.
Yes, and it was even the first time for a big international tournament.
When I started with Albania, it was always a very distant dream.
It was the culmination of fourteen years in the national team.
It put Albania on the map of Europe, not just on the football map.
We have a rather special nation.
More than half of our people live outside the borders of Albania.
The national team has always had this role of national union and of being able to carry tens of thousands of supporters during the Euro, it was really something extraordinary.
You stopped your career after Euro 2016. Where are you?
I returned to Albania, something that had not happened to me since I was little.
I was seven when I left Kosovo with my family.
In 2016, I returned to live there to have the family nearby.
I started a project in which I am fully committed: my charitable foundation which is used to promote sport among children, at home.
It is called Lorik Cana 5 Foundation.
It allows young people to have sports facilities at school and to be able to play sports on a daily basis.
I also had my sports administration diploma, to one day give me the opportunity to continue as a club officer.
I am also a consultant for the Champions League, at home in Albania.
I stay in the world of sport because when you're lucky enough to be in that world, it's a shame to get out of it.
Maradona died on Wednesday.
Did you have the opportunity to meet him?
Yes, he had come to Marseille to meet Argentinian internationals, so I had the chance to meet him.
Of course, for those of my generation, he's a player we grew up with.
He was a football genius.
He is someone who has been touched by the grace of God through his qualities and I think he made us all dream.
He was unleashing passions and he was one of the reasons millions of young boys wanted to play football so just for that he was an amazing character.
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