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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Thomas Strakosha

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Thomas Strakosha, goalkeeper, played for Lazio from 2016-2022

Thomas Fotaq Strakosha was born in Athens, Greece, on March 15, 1995.


He is of Albanian nationality and his father Foto also played as a goalkeeper. He was in fact born in Greece as his father was playing for Olimpiacos at the time. Thomas is a product of the Panionios youth sector and in 2012 he joined Lazio for € 75,000. In his first season in Rome he played for the “Primavera” (under 19's) and they won the league. In 2012-13 he was promoted to the first team squad but was 3rd choice behind Federico Marchetti and Albano Bizzarri. In the 2013-14 season he was again 3rd choice behind Marchetti and fellow Albanian Etrit Berisha. In July 2014 his contract was extended until 2019 and he was loaned out to Salernitana in Serie B for a year. He was supposed to gain experience but only played 11 times for the “Campania” club and returned to the capital for the 2015-16 season.


This time round Strakosha got his long awaited chance as Berisha had moved to Atalanta and Marchetti had suffered an injury. In September 2016 Strakosha finally made his debut away to Milan. Lazio were defeated 2-O but he made several good saves and was unanimously praised for his performance, even by the legendary keeper Dino Zoff. A week later at home to Empoli he kept his first clean sheet in a 2-0 win. He played 21 times that season and his contract was renewed until 2022.


The 2017-18 season saw Strakosha start as the undisputed first choice keeper and he won his first silverware as Lazio defeated Juventus 3-2 in a dramatic Italian Super Cup Final. It was again versus Juventus a couple of months later, on October 14, 2018, that he had one of his finest hours, saving a 97th minute injury time penalty by Paolo Dybala, giving Lazio a 2-1 away victory. It should be remembered that Juventus had not lost on home soil since 2015. He had a good season and was named best young goalkeeper of Serie A.


In 2018-19 and 2019-20 he would play 35 and 38 games respectively. The 2019-20 season was particularly special and saw Lazio challenge for the title until the COVID-19 crisis interrupted the league and Lazio's momentum, destroying the scudetto dream.


The 2020-21 season saw the arrival of experienced veteran Pepe Reina (former Liverpool, Bayern, Napoli and Milan) who would soon overturn the goalkeeping hierarchy, also due to a string of errors by Strakosha who ended up playing only 9 times.


The following season 2021-22, with the arrival of new coach Maurizio Sarri, who favoured the sweeper style keeper, he again started as second in the pecking order behind Reina. He did however win back his place after a Reina loss of form, despite a memorable howler by Strakosha himself in a Europa League game away to Galatasaray in Istanbul. A seemingly innocuous high cross which could either have been caught or simply tipped over the bar was inexplicably pushed into his own net by Strakosha, a comical error which cost Lazio the match. He did however recover his confidence to play 23 games that season but there was a feeling that Lazio and Strakosha both needed a change. His contract expired in the summer and was not renewed.


After rumours of him joining Fulham, he did end up in London, but a bit further west, at Brentford. At 27 Strakosha would start a new adventure and experience in the English Premier League.


At Lazio he played 208 games (164 in Serie A, 15 in Coppa Italia, 1 in Champions League, 26 in Europa League and two Super Coppa finals) and won the Coppa Italia twice (Roma 2013 in the squad and Atalanta 2019 as a protagonist) and 2 Italian Super Coppas (both against Juventus 2017 and 2019).


At International level Strakosha has played for Albania at all age levels and from 2017 has earned 19 full caps for the National side.


Strakosha's experience with Lazio was a mixed one really. He was never completely accepted by the fans. He was indisputably an excellent shot stopper, quick and agile and difficult to beat from the long range. He was however prone to mistakes and at 1.93 in height should have a better command claiming high crosses and corners. He was often reluctant to come off his line or when he did was hesitant, being left in no-man's land. He was not impeccable with his feet either and with Lazio's style of play, especially with Sarri, his weakness was often exposed. He is however a goalkeeper with good technique and made some memorable saves at Lazio, contributing actively to 3 Cup triumphs but his inconsistency never won him the love of the Lazio fans.


They probably wish him well at Brentford as he was part of the Lazio family for so long but he will not be particularly missed. However, on his last appearance, against Verona in May 2022, in a packed Olympic stadium there were farewell tears and a lap of honour for him and Lucas Leiva.


Appearances for Lazio

Season

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Europa League

Super Coppa

Totals

2016-17

21

4

-

-

-

25

2017-18

38

4

-

10

1

53

2018-19

35

5

-

4

-

44

2019-20

38

1

-

4

1

44

2020-21

9

1

1

-

-

11

2021-22

23

-

-

8

-

31

Totals

164

15

1

26

2

208

Sources




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