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Kings of Anglia Issue 7 Magazine Offer With Jimmy Bullard and Tristan Nydam

‘We didn’t want to get killed’ – Celina opens up about his Kosovo roots

PUBLISHED: 17:39 07 December 2017

Bersant Celina has proved a big hit on loan at Ipswich Town. Photo: Pagepix

Bersant Celina has proved a big hit on loan at Ipswich Town. Photo: Pagepix

Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town loan star Bersant Celina has opened up about his family fleeing war-torn Kosovo as a child.

Bersant Celina still hopes to break into the Manchester City team. Photo: PagepixBersant Celina still hopes to break into the Manchester City team. Photo: Pagepix

Celina was born in the historic city of Prizen and two years later, in 1998, came the Kosovo War, a 16-month conflict between the Republics of Montenegro and Serbia and a Kosovo Albanian rebel group with support from NATO.

Various estimates of the number of civilian casualties have been announced through the years – some as high as seven to nine thousand – while almost a million Kosovo Albanians are thought to have fled during that period.

Celina’s parents were among those to leave the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, setting up home in Drammen, Norway.

“I was two when we moved to Norway because of what happened in the ex-Yugoslavia,” explained Bersant, now 21.

“People died, people were getting killed – it’s the worst thing that can happen. That was the reason we left, we didn’t want to get killed.”

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Celina had represented Norway from Under-15 to U21 level, but when Kosovo finally became a member of UEFA and FIFA in May 2016 he committed his allegiance to them.

• Celina on his early Town frustrations, ‘perfect’ relationship with McCarthy and how he’s confident he can make it at Manchester City

“I grew up in Norway, so I felt Norwegian when I lived there,” said Celina. “Obviously I knew I was from a different country.

“When it came to choosing between playing for Norway and Kosovo it was a hard decision for me.

“As a kid I wanted to play for Norway, but we didn’t have a Kosovan national team then and I didn’t know it was going to happen.

“Then we got the national team and it just changed everything.

“My parents didn’t say anything. It was up to me and what I felt and that’s what I felt.”

Now with six senior caps to his name, he continued: “It feels different (playing for Kosovo) because of what everyone has been through. Everyone in the team has their own stories from their families. It’s just an amazing honour to be able to play for them.

“We have a lot of young talent and some good players. It’s going to take time for us to get into the big competitions, but I think it will happen.”

Signed by Manchester City at the age of 15, Celina recalls: “When I first moved over my dad came and lived with me for six months, then I went into digs. It was really difficult for me. There were a lot of times when I really wanted to go back to Norway, but my hard work and dedication kept me going and things got better and better.

“Dad is my biggest fan. He’s always been there for me and I appreciate that. He’s always there to watch me and support me.”

Teenage striker Ben Morris has his sights set on a breakthrough season for Ipswich Town after receiving a surprise call-up for the England Under-19 squad.

Paul Hurst always got the sense Bartosz Bialkowski’s future was at Ipswich Town as the club worked to tie their star goalkeeper down to a new deal.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst has admitted he can’t guarantee leading scorer Martyn Waghorn will still be at the club by the time the new season starts.

Andy Warren casts his eye over Ipswich Town’s U23s’ 1-1 draw with Lowestoft Town - a game watched by Blues boss Paul Hurst.

Mark Heath and Andy Warren discuss all the latest Ipswich Town news – from Bart’s new deal to Paul Hurst’s cutting comments – in this week’s Kings of Anglia podcast.

Paul Hurst will be an interested spectator at Lowestoft this evening as he continues to assess Ipswich Town’s young players.

Ipswich Town are among a string of clubs being linked with a move for Norwich City winger Yanic Wildschut.

Ipswich Town beat Crawley Town 1-0, at East Grinstead Town, in their latest pre-season friendly last night. STUART WATSON gives his snap observations.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst said tonight’s 1-0 friendly win against Crawley Town was ‘a step forward’, but says his squad is ‘nowhere near the finished article’.

Ipswich Town produced a much-improved display in their second pre-season outing as they saw off Crawley Town 1-0 at East Grinstead this evening.

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