|Full name||Ilion Lika|
|Date of birth||17 May 1980|
|Place of birth||Tiranë, Albania|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Ilion Lika (born 17 May 1980) is an Albanian football player who plays for Tirana in the Albanian Superliga as a goalkeeper. He has previously played for Dinamo, Elbasani, Kastrioti and Flamurtari in Albania and Terek Grozny in Russia. He was also a member of the Albania national team between 2002 and 2010, and he earned 14 senior international caps.
Lika played for 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 be transferred to the 2005–06 Albanian Superliga champions, Elbasani in August 2007 where he signed a 1-year contract. He played just under 6 months in at Elbasani before looking for a new team. It emerged in January that Tirana were interested in signing the Albanian international and that Lika had spoken to 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 Tirana and that it was all speculation. 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.
Even though he had turned down a move to Ukraine, Lika was still wanted by Tom Tomsk and Terek Grozny, both in Russia. Both clubs had offered him a contract but the one that 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. Lika quickly became the club's 1st choice goalkeeper and put in many impressive performances throughout the 2008–09 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.
He managed 9 clean sheets in 27 games during the 2008–09 season. Following a very impressive first season in Russia, Lika has been offered to receive Chechenyan citizenship by the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. 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 2008–09 season. 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 from 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.
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.
Lika suffered an injury that would keep him out of action for over 5 months at the beginning of 2009. The vice-president of 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 2010 World Cup qualifiers and with first choice goalkeeper Arjan Beqaj already out for a lengthy 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. 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 2009–10 season. Lika spent 5 weeks rehabilitating in Macedonia in 2009 to try to get him back to full fitness.
After being without a club for almost a month the goalkeeper was offered a contract at struggling Albanian side Vllaznia Shkodër. 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. After playing just one game with the club against 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.
Return to Tirana
On 5 January 2014, Lika agreed terms with Tirana to join the Albanian Superliga strugglers for the second part of 2013–14 season. He signed an initial 6-month contract with the option of a further one year.
On 5 June 2014, following the end of 2013–14 season, Lika left Tirana and signed a two-year contract with Flamurtari Vlorë, becoming the club's first signing of the summer transfer window. He made his debut with team in the first leg of 2014–15 UEFA Europa League first qualifying round against Sioni Bolnisi, playing full-90 minutes and helping Flamurtari to win 3–2 away. Lika was on goal even in the returning leg at Flamurtari Stadium, conceding two times in a 2–1 home defeat, but still Flamurtari progressed in the next round thanks to away goal rule. He would play another two matches in the second qualifying round against Petrolul Ploiești where Flamurtari was eliminated 5–1 on aggregate, ending thus his European campaign with four matches.
|Terek Grozny||2008||Russian Premier League||27||0||1||0||—||—||28||0|
- As of 11 March 2016
|Albania national team|
- Dinamo Tirana
- Albanian Internationals Transfers
- Elbasani Transfers
- KF Tirana interest
- Vorskla Poltava interest
- Terek Grozniy transfer
- CSKA Moscow performance
- 2008-2009 Matches List
- Ramzan Kadyrov's offer
- President's present
- Ora News interview
- "Терек" расстался с шестью легионерами.
- Rehab in Macedonia
- Kel Naraçi (20 January 2010). "Zyrtare / Ilion Lika firmos me Vllazninë!" (in Albanian). Albania Soccer. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- Klevis Bejkolli (23 January 2010). "Debuton Ilion Lika me Vllazninë!" (in Albanian). Albania Soccer. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- Kel Naraçi (28 January 2010). "Ilion Lika largohet nga Vllaznia!" (in Albanian). Albania Soccer. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- Adela Merko (5 January 2014). "Vjen Ilion Lika, Magani: Presim edhe 6 të tjerë. Tomiç e Morina, dy dëshira bardheblu" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- "Flamurtari zyrtarizon portierin Ilion Lika" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 5 June 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- Ermal Sika (4 July 2014). "Flamurtar magjik, fitore me përmbysje në Gjeorgji. Gjoka frenon: S'ka mbaruar asgjë!" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- Ermal Sika (11 July 2014). "Vlonjatët, kualifikim me "dorë në zemër". Shehaj i ekzaltuar: E pata parandier golin" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "Laçi dështon që në shtëpi, Flamurtari dorëzohet në fund" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "Rumunët bëjnë festë në Vlorë. Ëndrra e kuqezinjve për përmbysjen zgjati 1 minutë" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "UEFA Europa League 2014/15 - History - Flamurtari". UEFA.com. 12 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "Albania - I. Lika - Profile with news, career statistics and history". Soccerway. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- "Football : Ilion Lika". Football Database. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- "Stats and profile". Scoresway. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- "Ilion Lika". National Football Teams. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
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|KF Tirana captain