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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Lorik Cana

Lorik Cana was born in Gjakova, in Kosovo, on July 27, 1983. At the time it was part of Albania. At a young age he was forced to flee his homeland due to the Yugoslav war and his family took refuge in Switzerland. He has Albanian, Swiss, Kosovaran and French citizenship and speaks four languages fluently plus a knowledge of Turkish and German.

At 16 he was invited to a trial at Arsenal but was unable to be present due to bureaucratic problems connected to his visa. He then joined the Paris Saint-Germain youth sector in 2000. In 2002 he made his debut for the first team.

The manager was Luís Fernandez but this was pre "Les Rouge-et-Bleu" becoming "money bags" and they finished 11th. Cana played 3 league games.

The following year he played a lot more, 32 league games with 1 goal and 4 in the domestic cups, under coach Vahid Halilhodziç. "Les Parisiens" finished 2nd and won the Coupe de France (Châteauroux 1-0).

The 2004-05 was his last full season in Paris. PSG started with Halilhodžić but he was replaced in February by Laurent Fournier. The Parisiens finished 9th and Cana played 32 league games with 1 goal, 2 in the domestic cups and 6 in the Champions League.

In 2005-06 he started at PSG under Fournier but after 2 league games in August he left for rivals Marseille. He stayed four seasons with 5th, 2nd, 3rd and 2nd places. His managers were Jean Fernandez, Albert Emon, then with Eric Gerets and finally Eric Gerets alone. Cana played 175 matches for "Les Olympiens" (The Olympians), 122 in the league with 6 goals, 19 in the domestic cups with 1 goal and 34 in Europe (8 CL +4 UC) with 1 goal. He played alongside Djibril Cissé for two seasons.

In 2009-10 he joined Sunderland in the Premier League. The Black Cats had Steve Bruce as manager and finished 13th, their best results were beating Arsenal and Tottenham at home. Cana played 31 league games and 4 in the domestic cups.

In 2010 he went to Istanbul in Turkey and joined Galatasaray. The Cimbom coach were four over a difficult debut season; Frank Rijkaard, Gheorghe Hagi, Bulent Ünder and then Fatih Terim. The "Aslanlar" (The Lions) finished a disappointing 8th. Cana played 24 league games with 1 goal, 4 in the Turkish Cup and 3 in the Champions League.

In 2011 he came to Lazio. The Biancocelesti had a good season under Edy Reja and finished 4th (EL) also winning both derbies. Cana played 15 league games with 2 goals (Lecce, Atalanta) and 6 in the Europa League (Lazio out in the last 32 against Atlético Madrid).

The following season Vladimir Petkovic arrived as manager (one of the few people who speaks more languages than Cana). Lazio started well in the league but then faded and finished 7th. They however triumphed in the Coppa Italia beating bitter rivals Roma in an epic Roman derby final (Lulic 71'). Lazio also won one and drew one in the league derbies. Cana played in the final plus 24 league games, another 4 in Coppa Italia and 9 in the Europa League (eliminated in quarters by Fenerbahce and shocking Scottish referee).

In 2013-14 Petkovic started but was replaced by Reja during the Christmas break. Lazio finished 9th and lost the Super Cup final to Juventus 0-4. Cana played 26 league games with 2 goals (Sampdoria 94th minute equaliser, Fiorentina winner) and 6 in the Europa League (out in the last 32 against Ludogorets).

In 2014-15 Stefano Pioli was manager and Lazio did well finishing 3rd (CL Preliminary round). Lazio also reached the Coppa Italia final but were defeated by Juventus 1-2 after extra-time. Cana played 17 league games and 3 in Coppa Italia.

In 2015-16 Cana left Lazio and returned to France, this time to Nantes in Ligue 1. The Atlantic Loire valley Canaries had Armenian Michel Der Zakarian as manager and finished 14th. Cana played 21 league games plus 3 in the Coupe de France and played alongside Argentine Emiliano Sala, who some years later would tragically die in an air crash before transferring to play for Cardiff City.

This was Cana's last professional club and he retired at 33.

At international level he won 93 caps for Albania with 1 goal (Azerbaijan). He played two games in Albania's historic participation in Euro 2016 with the "Shqiponjat's" (Eagles) first win, versus Romania. He holds the record number of caps and was captain from 2010. He was voted Albania's Player of the Year three times; 2003, 2009 and 2014.

Since retiring he has starred in an autobiographical film about himself, "Triumph". He has set up the Lorik Cana Foundation promoting sport and culture in Albania and Kosovo. From 2017 he is also Ambassador for children’s football in Albania, on behalf of the Federation.

Cana was a central defender but could also play in midfield. At 1.86 metres and 77 kilos he was strong physically and extremely tough. He was nicknamed "Luftërari" (The Warrior) for his fighting spirit. He was a great tackler and a master at regaining possession. He was not an elegant player but very efficient. His style of play obviously earned him his fair share of yellow and red cards. His hard-working ethic made him popular wherever he played.

At Lazio he played 111 games with 4 goals and left a positive memory. In a league often dominated by theatrics Cana was hard but fair and unlike many could and would take as good as he got. His nickname was the usual "Il Guerriero" (The Warrior). Lazio have had far better defenders but few who played with his passion or who got stuck in as much as Cana. His legacy is also obviously connected to the epic 26th May derby triumph in the Coppa Italia final in which Cana was protagonist, playing the whole game. He is part of one of Lazio's legendary teams.

Lazio Career


Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League


21 (2)

15 (2)









32 (2)

26 (2)









111 (4)

82 (4)





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