Rashica sought advice from Xhaka and Shaqiri before City transfer
- Credit: Tony Thrussell/Archant
Milot Rashica joining Norwich City in the Premier League is not just for him, or his family but for his country.
The 25-year-old is part of a new generation of football talent from a modern-day Kosovo scarred by ethnic divisions in a war-torn part of Europe.
The exciting attacking player represents a country at international level who only played their first World Cup qualifier in 2016.
Rashica revealed on Thursday he had spoken to both Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri prior to his summer move to England. The high profile Swiss international duo have Kosovan roots, and Rashica knows what it will mean in his homeland to watch him star in the Premier League.
“It is a big story in Kosovo. They are very excited,” he said. “Everyone knows as a country we have had a difficult time but now when they see the players and the people that make it from our country they will follow every game. Even in the UK I have had a warm welcome from a lot of Kosovan and Albanian people in Norwich or London.
“I think my journey is a little bit different, because I started in Kosovo and then from the Kosovan League I moved to Holland and then to Germany. But everything that I had on the way and everything that has happened in the past just makes me stronger and I'm very happy and very proud for our country and from all the players that made it like me.
“That's what gives us perhaps a hard working mentality, and to be mentally strong. This is a special thing for us because we never forget where we came from. We always remind ourselves.
“We would watch other national teams and other players but now you can see the children there have our names on the jerseys. When we play as a national team no-one works there. Everyone wants to go to the stadium or somewhere to watch the game. That's make us very happy and very proud.”
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Rashica has done his homework and believes he is ready for the step up to the Premier League after spells at Vitesse Arnhem and Werder Bremen.
“The level will be a bit different from the Bundesliga but that is still one of the top leagues in Europe with a high intensity,” he said. “There have been some Albanian or Kosovan players in the past in the Premier League and the Championship.
"They are my friends so we had a lot of talks. I have some friends from the national team that played in the Championship. "Atdhe Nuhiu from Sheffield Wednesday or Florent Hadergjonaj (Huddersfield). But now also Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri are my friends so we had a small talk about it and they said the Premier League is the best league in the world.
"So it will be a very difficult and tough league. But I think I am prepared for that.”
City’s opening weekend Premier League home date with former champions Liverpool is straight into the deep end for Rashica. But he likes what he sees already from Daniel Farke’s squad, minus their European Championship contingent.
“I think we have a very good team,” he said. “New players are coming, we are just missing some players who have been away with the national team but I can see the quality and the intensity in training. Yes, we can stay in the league because we have a good team. They did an amazing job last year in the Championship.
“We know we play Liverpool first, who is one of the best teams, but what I can see now in this week I have been here is that we are preparing in a good way. It's a little bit different to what I experienced in Germany. But day by day, I'm getting used to it and I'm trying to follow the right way."