20 Things You Didn't Know about the Kingdom of ZOG; SECRETS OF SOCCER RIVALS ALBANIA

The Mirror (London, England), June 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

20 Things You Didn't Know about the Kingdom of ZOG; SECRETS OF SOCCER RIVALS ALBANIA


Byline: DAMIEN LANE

IRELAND'S crunch qualifier with Albania today at Lansdowne road is a big game for both countries.

A win for either would go a long way towards determining who goes Portugal next summer for Euro 2004.

Albania are riding high after their recent 3-1 hammering of the fancied Russians in Tirana.

The Irish know that anything less than a victory will consign their hopes to the wilderness.

Here, the Mirror gives Irish fans a glimpse of what the Albanians are made of.

A summary of the Albanian national character could read: Tough, resilient and not afraid of losing with style. Throw in another couple of toughs and you get the drift.

Below are 20 things you may not have known about the tiny Balkan state.

ALBANIA is Europe's poorest country and borders Greece, Kosovo and Montenegro in the Balkans.

IT has a population similar to Ireland's of 3.2million.

NINETY per cent of the country is Muslim.

The national currency is the lek. There are about 136 leks to the euro

ITS flag is a two-headed black eagle on a red background.

BETWEEN 1928 and 1939 Albania was ruled by King Zog, a supporter of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. But in 1939 Mussolini marched into Albania, declared it a protectorate and that was the end of Zog.

AFTER the ravages of World War II, which Albania barely survived, the country fell into the clutches of the Stalinists who installed the puppet ruler, the inexorable Enver Hoxha.

HIS most famous phrase, "The Albanian people have hacked their way through history, sword in hand" sums up his brutal rule. …

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