When Shefki Kuqi rumbled off the bench for Newcastle last Saturday, he was making his debut for his 13th senior club. He is almost the definition of the journeyman striker. But his is a journey more extraordinary than most, one that began in 1989, when he was 12 years old. Kuqi was born in Vucitrn, a town in Kosovo, then in Yugoslavia, where two-thirds of the population were ethnic Albanians. Kuqi’s family were among them. He grew up in a small village just outside Vucitrn, most of whose residents worked in a metal-processing plant on the road into the town. There were only 10 Serb houses in the village, five in a cluster just over the road from Kuqi’s house, five just behind. “We started school at six and a half,” Kuqi remembers. “There were separate Kosovan and Serb classes in the same school and, from the age of 10, Kosovan children were expected to study the Serbian language. Maybe once or twice a week we’d get to school an hour early and play a game of football, Kosovans v Serbs, which would always draw a crowd. “The kids were aware of the differences between them but the games were… Read full this story
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