A milestone in history of Albanian sport

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks at inauguration ceremony of new national “Air Albania Stadium”:

“Wow amazing stadium, I should go”

This is the text message Jose Mourinho, a very special visitor to the world’s most spectacular stadiums, sent me and I actually replied that this stadium is indeed even more amazing than what can be seen via the Whatsapp window.

I have been waiting for this moment for so long over the years and for too long I have been dreaming about the day when Albanians would no longer enter into an old ramshackle stadium to support the Red and Blacks national side at their home international games.

For too long I have been wishing for the night when the Red and Blacks would the owners of a new home for the most beautiful jersey of our nation.

I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to turn a so beautiful, yet so distant dream into the reality of this unforgettable evening, where we have all come together to come together on the pitch of inaugurating today the new house of the Red and Blacks, the hosts, and the world champions of France.

Undoubtedly, this privilege would have been impossible without some others with whom the dream force for the national arena turned us into a fantastic team that carried out this monumental masterpiece, starting with the Albanian Football Federation President Armando Duka, to whom I am very grateful for all his understanding of my aesthetic exegesis;

To go with the architect Marco Casamonti, who came to Tirana almost from the same direction from where the great Florentine architects, designers of the capital, boulevard, university complex and the old stadium itself came from almost a century ago, from which our architect masterfully preserved Gherardo Bosio’s magnificent tribune, which has now been named after “Qemal Stafa”;

And last but not least, the investor and builder of this work, the “Albstar” company’s CEO Idajet Ismaili, without whom this artistic and very complex project by architect Casamonti would have not seen the light of day.

Indeed, this irreproachable project, which has been criticized long before Marco Casamonti was to emerge, just like it has been always the case in the arduous history of the cities’ development and architecture featuring plenty of masterpieces even in much more developed countries than ours, yet history has told us that words and the idle talks by those who have lined up along the trench of a range of oppositions are already carried away on the winds along with their name, while good deeds are what remain in history.

At the new national arena “Air Albania Stadium” we have built more than just a fantastic stadium for the Sunday football games, or the challenges of our national side. We have also created a new social gravity for Tirana, where there will be life whole week.

We have created a whole chain of new pedestrian spaces, which will soon integrate into the pedestrian square “Mother Teresa,” aw well as the new compound that would be given rise in the process of transforming the former hotel “Sheraton” into “Hayat Hotel and Residence”.

Many who ridiculed this stadium think they put us in an awkward position by describing it as a shopping mall. May Lord forgive them; for they know not what they say, but it is for sure that the new generation stadiums all over the world are now designed to work 24/7 and just on the game day. And this stadium belongs exactly to this generation of facilities that are built primarily for football, while creating also social life, new jobs, consumption opportunities and generate revenue.

“Air Albania Stadium” is new both physically and in its ambitions, but it features every cultural heritage element that has been preserved in its integrity with extraordinary care and impressive professionalism by Italian and Albanian restoration experts, but also the history of stadium with celebrated football players, including the names of Panajot Pano, Fatmir Frasheri and Vasilaq Zeri after whom the stadium’s tribunes have been named.

Finally, this project was implemented through public-private partnership, which has cost not a single penny to taxpayers, is also a valuable example of the value of “the cursed” PPPs when they are designed and materialized in harmony with public and private interest.

The new national stadium has now sprung to life and it belongs to the generation of sportsmen and sport admirers, as well as to Tirana citizens and foreign tourists too, because this is absolutely a modern-era monument that adds to Tirana’s tourist map along with cultural and historic sites in the country’s capital.

Time will tell and speak a lot better than I am doing today and I don’t want to take you more time, although I could have delivered the longest speech in my life today, since my speeches are never short.

Concluding, I would like to express my gratitude the President of UEFA for his visit, as well as to all of those accompanying him, and I would also like to extend a special greeting to a person, who has astonished every one of us when wearing the Milan jersey and not only, but not only and who is today the President of the Football Federation of Montenegro. Montenegro is lucky to have Savicevic as President of its soccer federation.