Wednesday, December 13, 2006
From fame to disfavour in four quick years…On the night of October 16, 2002, Artim Sakiri’s tenth minute goal silenced a loud Southampton crowd: a wonderful, swerving corner shot that managed to beat a visibly humiliated David Seaman. The Macedonians continued to shoot from long distances on that occasion, earning several nervous fumbles from the soon-to-be replaced English goalkeeper. Macedonia earned a memorable 2-2 draw with their Euro group rivals, with another historic move to follow: the transfer of Artim Sakiri to Premier League club West Bromwich Albion.
Short and Unsuccessful Stint in England
Sakiri’s departure from Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia was met with much anticipation, even prompting Albion fan songs like “Artim Sakiri - He scores from corner kicks/Artim Sakiri - He knows that Beckham’s sh*t/Artim Sakiri - Lobbing Seaman all day!” Unfortunately, the Macedonian midfielder failed to live up to all the hype, making only 33 appearances for the English club before going on to join Danish outfit Aalborg BK in 2005.
Next Up: Denmark and Finland
Sakiri has since failed to improve on the single goal he scored with West Bromwich, showing poorly in Denmark before his release from that side earlier this year. His services are currently being solicited by FC Inter Turku, a team that finished tenth in the 2006 Finnish Premier League (Veikkausliiga): a far cry from Southampton, and hardly a Mecca of soccer stardom.
Poor Showings for Macedonia
Sakiri’s latest appearances for the Macedonian national team have been equally disappointing, fielding only occasionally since Srecko Katanec’s arrival, and failing to impress in a 2-0 loss to Russia in Skopje. It was the first time in more than a handful of games that Sakiri started for Macedonia, although he was replaced before the first-half whistle blew.
Was Sakiri Worth the Hype?
33-year old Sakiri had some memorable moments for Macedonia, earning three international goals, and demonstrating flashes of brilliance and creativity more akin to more popular soccer talents. His club resume also boasts meaningful periods with teams such as FK Vardar, Tennis Borussia Berlin, and Maltyaspor, among others. The relevant evidence suggests that Sakiri is not as good as the highly talked-about goal he scored at Southampton in October 2003, but what that goal did do-and what the classy and confident Sakiri continues to do-is affect a positive change in the way Macedonians of all ethnic extraction see their country and themselves. More than a few Macedonians, including a few dozen Albanians, witnessed Ambassador Sakiri descend from the team airplane after the England triumph with the red and gold flag draped around his shoulders, while more than a few Macedonians and Albanians continue to believe in the Ambassador’s conviction that the country will qualify for Euro 2008. This, if anything, will be Sakiri’s soccer legacy-a legacy that transcends the simple realm of sport.
13.12.2006 by Steven Vasilevski - htpp://www.jadransport.org
Labels: Football Essays