Ilion Lika

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Ilion Lika
Ilion Lika.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth (1980-05-17) 17 May 1980 (age 34)
Place of birth Tiranë, Albania
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current team
KS Flamurtari
Number 12
Youth career
1997-1999 KS Dinamo
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999-2007 Dinamo Tirana 200 (0)
2007-2008 KF Elbasani 17 (0)
2008-2009 Terek Grozny 27 (0)
2009-2010 Kastrioti Krujë 15 (0)
2010-2013 KF Tirana 75 (0)
2013 Kastrioti Krujë 16 (0)
2014 KF Tirana 12 (0)
2014- Flamurtari Vlorë 0 (0)
National team
2002-2010 Albania 14 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 29 January 2010

Ilion Lika (born 17 May 1980 in Tiranë) is an Albanian football player who currently plays for Flamurtari Vlorë in the Albanian Superliga. He has previously played for Dinamo Tirana, KF Elbasani, Kastrioti Krujë and KF Tirana in Albania and Terek Grozny in Russia.

Career[edit]

Lika played for KS Dinamo Tirana from 1999 to June 2007. He became a fan favourite during his time at Dinamo Tirana and was considered as being one of the best goalkeepers in the Albanian Superliga. Lika was tested by the Danish side Odense BK but he wasn't offered a contract at the club. His failed trial in Denmark paved the way for him to transferred to the 2005-2006 Albanian Superliga champions, KS Elbasani in August 2007 where he signed a 1-year contract.[1][2] He played just under 6 months in at KS Elbasani before looking for a new team. It emerged in January that KF Tirana were interested in signing the Albanian international and that Lika had spoken to a one of the club's owners about a possible switch back to the capital, however Lika himself quickly squashed these rumours insisting that he had never spoken to anyone about a move to KF Tirana and that it was all speculation.[3] He also had offers from abroad as well with Vorskla Poltava apparently leading the chase for the goalkeeper's signature, although he had other clubs from Turkey and the rest of Europe interested in him. According to his agent, he was in contact with Vorskla Poltava and he stated that Lika had been offered a very good contract but it was still hard to accept because the location and the weather of Ukraine would have been a problem for Lika.[4]

FC Terek Grozny[edit]

Even though he had turned down a move to Ukraine, Lika was still wanted by Tom Tomsk and FC Terek Grozny, both in Russia. Both clubs had offered him a contract but the one that FC Terek Grozny offered him was too hard to refuse and so he chose to move to Grozny. He completed his move to the club on 29 January 2008 and he signed a two-year contract worth $500,000. He stated that one of the main reasons for his move was that he hoped to one day become the Albania national football team's first choice goalkeeper.[5] Lika quickly became the club's 1st choice goalkeeper and put in many impressive performances throughout the 2008-2009 season including one against CSKA Moscow where he impressed even the CSKA Moscow's coach with his performance, he also kept a clean sheet in the historic 1–0 victory over one of the biggest clubs in Russia.[6]

He managed 9 clean sheets in 27 games during the 2008-2009 season.[7] Following a very impressive first season in Russia, Lika has been offered to receive Chechenyan citizenship by the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.[8] The president of Chechenya has expressed his desire for Lika to spend the rest of his career with FC Terek Grozny and has stated that he is a huge fan of the Albanian goalkeeper. Ramzan Kadyrov also gave Lika a brand new Land Rover worth $110,000 as a present during the 2008-2009 season.[9] In an interview with Ora News in Albania, Lika explained that if any of his teammates call him by his given name Ilion, then they will be fined by the club's owner and president of Chechenya, Ramzan Kadyrov who is one of Lika's biggest fans. The president wants the team and its supporters to call him Iljaz Lika instead of his official name, Ilion Lika. The chairman Ramzan Kadyrov and Lika have formed a special relationship and understanding of each other based on their Islamic beliefs because according to Lika the chairman is a very religious man and after realising that Lika is a Muslim as well he has treated him differently than the other players. Besides the Land Rover, he has also bought Lika a house in Chechenya. Lika and the chairman have also travelled to Dubai on holiday together and they also went to Mecca and that is how they have built a much closer relationship. He also says that he is treated like a king at the club and is a fan favourite already.[10]

Ilion Lika warming up for FC Terek Grozny

On 1 December 2009 Lika left with six other Terek Grozny players officially the Russian club. All five others are foreign the Slovakian defender Radoslav Zabavnik, Brazilian defender Cléber Guedes de Lima and Romanians Florentin Petre, Andrei Margaritescu and Daniel Pancu, the players left for free after that the club decided to not renew their contracts.[11]

Injury[edit]

Lika suffered an injury that would keep him out of action for over 5 months at the beginning of 2009. The vice-president of FC Terek Grozny announced that Lika would miss at least 5 months of football after damaging his Achilles tendon. The injury meant that he missed the start of the Russian Premier League and also 3 crucial World Cup 2010 qualifiers and with first choice goalkeeper Arjan Beqaj already out for a lengthly period, this would have meant that Lika would have been the first choice keeper and would have been back in the squad after spending more than 2 years out of the national squad.[12] FC Terek Grozny quickly brought in a goalkeeper to take the injured Lika's place, that goalkeeper was Andriy Dikan and he was the club's main goalkeeper for the start of the 2009-2010 season. Lika spent 5 weeks rehabilitating in Macedonia in 2009 to try and get him back to full fitness.[13]

Vllaznia[edit]

Ilion Lika warming up for FC Terek Grozny

After being without a club for almost a month the goalkeeper was offered a contract at struggling Albanian side KS Vllaznia Shkoder. He signed for the club on 19 January 2010 after coming to an angreement with the management and owners of the club. Following his arrival he became only the club's third choice keeper behind veteran Armir Grimaj and youngster Olti Bishani.[14] After playing just 1 game with the club against KS Shkumbini Peqin which resulted in a 2-1 loss, Lika was released from his contract by the club president Valter Fushaj. Lika stated that he was unhappy about his contract and the clauses agreed and after a mutual agreement he was made a free player on 29 January 2010, just 10 days after his arrival at the club.[15]

Kastrioti[edit]

After released from his contract by KS Vllaznia Shkoder the goalkeeper was offered a new contract at Albanian side KS Kastrioti Kruje. He signed for the club on 1 February 2010 until the end of the season.

National team statistics[edit]

Albania national team
Year Apps Goals
2002 1 0
2003 0 0
2004 3 0
2005 7 0
2006 3 0
Total 14 0

References[edit]

External links[edit]