Edon Zhegrova Profile: From Kosovo to Lille, via AC Milan!

Edon Zhegrova Profile: From Kosovo to Lille, via AC Milan!

Publish on 04/01 at 19:57 - G. BOXALL


The Kosovan attacker has won hearts and minds of the Lille faithful this season, in what has been a successful campaign so far for Edon Zhegrova. We take a look at his story and journey to Ligue 1 Uber Eats.

Two goals, one man of the match award. Edon Zhegrova ran riot against RC Lens in the Derby du Nord this weekend, helping Les Dogues to a 2-1 win over their local rivals. It's not the first time the Kosovan has been a game-changer this season, having notched five goals and five assists so far in 26 matches – the 24-year-old has been turning heads everywhere.

Born in Germany, Raised in Kosovo

Zhegrova was born in Germany, where his parents fled to escape the ongoing war in Kosovo in 1998. Yet, he returned to Kosovo with his family at the age of two, where he began to play football. It was in the streets of Priština where a young Edon began to show a burgeoning raw talent, and he quickly joined his local club where he would regularly score 5-6 goals a game. People started to notice quickly… including Italian giants AC Milan.

"One day in 2012, AC Milan organised a major training camp in Kosovo. For over a week, 200 young players were invited to take part in tests. I only found out about the camp at the last minute."

"My coach rushed me there. I had to get dressed in a hurry while the kids were already out on the pitch. It's quite funny because I was registered last on the list, but in the end I finished first among all the participants. And that's really when everything changed for me."

With a couple of other players, a 12-year-old Zhegrova was invited to visit the San Siro and meet the likes of Kaka and Pato. At the age of 15, the attacker moved to Belgium to sign for Standard Liège and then Saint-Trond.

Four years and no official competitive games

There was however a hitch in his development … between 15 and 18-years-old, Edon could only play in friendly matches or train because of his Kosovar nationality (as Kosovo was not affiliated to UEFA nor FIFA). His luck would change when a scout of Genk saw his talent, and he signed for the Belgian club on a professional contract when he turned 18.

Basel … then Lille LOSC

Thrown straight into the first team, Kosovan played 24 matches (including four Europa League games) before signing for Swiss side FC Basel. Three years of the Swiss Super League and more European experience, and Edon then signed for Lille in January 2022. After a season and a half with Les Dogues, the 24-year-old winger has certainly reached a new level. "How have I improved since I've been here? Physically and tactically, but also in terms of playing more simply," said Zhegrova in a recent interview with Lille's club website.

"It's not that I want to change my game or my ability to make a difference in one-on-one situations. If I attempt a dribble, for example, it's because I know I can do it. But what the coach has taught me is to play simpler, especially in risky areas if I lose the ball."

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