Loro Boriçi: A National Football Legend & Champion
Loro Boriçi (1922-1984) is one of the most important figures of Albanian football. Boriçi remains one of the most productive, prolific, and intelligent forwards in Albanian football history. He was also one of the most versatile football players to play for Albania and a true pioneer of modern, techno-tactical football. He was a great organizer with a broad vision of play, an abundant assist provider, and a precise long-range shooter. With a height of 1.87 m (6.1 feet), the forward was a threat with his headers.
Loro Boriçi was born in the football-loving town of Shkodër. He completed general education there; in Xaverian College. Here, he began his journey as a young, promising footballer. On June 6, 1937, Boriçi made his senior debut at 14 and 297 days of age (KF Vllaznia versus Dragoji Pogradec). At that seventh-week game, he was unstoppable. The youth scored four goals (minutes 60, 70, 75, and 82) in the 5-0 victory.
Due to engagements in school, Boriçi played in only a few instances during 1937-1939, a period yet unexplored. He returned as a regular for Vllaznia in 1939, during which he became the second-best goalscorer of the season. The last match of that edition, on September 30, 1939, was memorable. It ended in a 6-5 win for SK Tirana against Vllaznia. Boriçi scored three goals in four minutes for the losing side (in minutes 76, 79, and 80), almost achieving a remarkable comeback against the eventual champions.
A Brief Italian Adventure
After his brilliant performance in Albania, scouts from S.S. Lazio welcomed Boriçi to their club. When in Rome, he also pursued a degree in Law.
Boriçi first played with the reserve squad, playing only four games with the seniors (1940-1941 Serie A). The following season, the Albanian became a regular in the first team. During the 1941-42 league season, the forward played 14 games and scored three goals.
Boriçi’s highlight with Lazio came, on September 9, 1942, in the last 16 rounds of the Coppa Italia. In that knockout game against Juventus, competition title holders, Boriçi tied for his side in the 57th minute, just before the 3-2 win for Lazio.
With his impressive performances, Loro Boriçi had a bright future in Italian football; an opportunity he never seized. From 1943 to 1945, Boriçi took a career break forced by the dramatic conditions of World War II. He returned to Albania, where the dictatorial regime established post-war isolation. Such a policy forbade the player from competing abroad.
In 1945, Boriçi rejoined Vllaznia and played for them in the Albanian domestic league until 1948. In his first season after his return, he won the domestic championship title as the best goalscorer (11 goals). Vllaznia won the title again the following season, a period during which the forward contributed with very few playing minutes due to a severe early-season injury.
Boriçi’s playing career continued with other triumphs. He went on to play for FK Partizani from 1948-1957. In his first season with the army team, he won the championship and the domestic cup (1949), again as the league’s top goalscorer (12 goals). He repeated the domestic league success in 1954, his fourth and final league title as a player. Overall, Loro Boriçi registered 152 official appearances for Partizani with 68 total goals. At the end of 1957, aged 35, Boriçi retired from active football. From then on, he continued his work as a coach.
National Team Stats & Highlights
On October 7, 1946 Loro Boriçi made his debut for the Albanian national football team in the 2-3 home loss against the then Yugoslavia. That debut opened the 4-team Balkans Cup Tournament. Two days later, he scored two goals in his nation’s historic 3-1 victory against Bulgaria. On the 13th of that same month, Boriçi captained Albania during the historic 1-0 win against Romania. That victory over Romania secured the Balkans Cup trophy for Albania. That trophy remains the single official trophy ever won by Albania.
The center forward registered 23 games for Albania in his entire career, scoring six goals in seven years. All of his national goals were historic and decisive. Boriçi scored once for the wins against Czechoslovakia (2-1 on December 7, 1952), Bulgaria (2-1 on July 4, 1950), and Poland (2-0 on December 29, 1953). Another positive result was the goalless away draw against Yugoslavia on June 27, 1948 in the “Havala” stadium.
Apart from active football, Loro Boriçi showed his football intelligence as a manager. Boriçi coached the Albanian national team, on and off, from 1957 until 1981, the longest run on national records. His most impressive coaching match was a goalless draw against the Federal Republic of Germany (December 17, 1967). That draw denied the World Cup runner-ups the participation in the Euro 1968 finals. From 1972-1975, Boriçi worked as a technical football director in China, becoming one of the first western coaches of that nation.
Overall, Loro Boriçi’s contribution to Albanian football remains irreplaceable. On 30 December, 2012, he was honored posthumously with the highest presidential award. Also, in his honor, the stadium of Shkodra (“Loro Boriçi” stadium), the second-largest in Albania and the home ground of KF Vllaznia, bears his name.
* Loro Boriçi features in our top 11 Albanian football players *