Sulejman Demollari: Modern Midfielder Of Albania
Sulejman Demollari, also known as Sul Demollari, was born in 1964 in Tirana. He is considered one of the best Albanian football players of the democratic transition period. The talented Albanian midfielder became a football icon of the 90s football generation.
Sulejman Demollari is among the most diverse midfielders to wear the Albanian national jersey. Apart from playing as a central midfielder, he played as an attacking midfielder or second striker. This diversity of position and the maintenance of high attacking effectiveness across a far and wide area reflected a modern approach to football play.
Demollari grew up as a footballer in the KF Vojo Kushi athletic academy while attending studies at the “Qemal Stafa” high school. Then, he joined the youth squad of Dinamo Tirana. His ball play abilities soon impressed the local managers and specialists. He became one of the best players on his team and thus moved on to the senior Dinamo squad at only 15 years of age.
Sulejman Demollari shined with the FK Dinamo Tirana team. He won with the Albanian Dinamo two well-deserved league titles (in the 1985-1986 and the 1989-1990 seasons). In those two seasons, he also triumphed in the Albanian Cup competition. Notably, he was decisive in the 1989-1990 season as the top goal scorer of Dinamo Tirana. Furthermore, he also won a Super Cup with Dinamo in 1990, the first-ever national Super Cup competition.
His performance was so splendid that he eclipsed all other players in domestic football. The then-specialized “Sporti Popullor” newspaper declared him as “Player of the Season” on six occasions (1983, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994).
With the fall of communism in Albania and eastern Europe, Demollari had the opportunity to test his skills abroad. After 124 appearances for Dinamo Tirana and at least 40 goals, Demollari joined the Romanian namesake club. The transfer deal cost the Romanians a converted fee of € 150,000.
A Legend Of Dinamo București
From 1991 to 1995, Demollari played for the famous FC Dinamo 1948, also known as Dinamo București. He debuted in the Romanian league on 25 August 1991 in a 6-0 win over Petrolul Ploiești. In that match, the midfielder scored two goals and gave one assist. It was the prelude to a stunning seasonal appearance that would end with the Dinamo squad lifting the league title trophy. Demollari was decisive in this achievement with 18 personal goals in 30 league games, the second top scorer in the team after Gábor Gerstenmájer. A highlight in that triumphal season is Demollari scoring the only goal in the derby win against Steaua București.
At Dinamo București, Demollari scored 36 goals in 100 appearances in 4 years. Experts in Romania consider him a football legend of the side from Bucharest and one of the best foreign football players to wear that jersey. The 1991-1992 Divizia A triumph is still one of the most impressive achievements for Dinamo, as they finished that campaign undefeated.
After four seasons in Romania, Demollari had brief experiences in Greece with Panionios Athens (1995-1996) and Hungary with ETO FC Győr (1996-1997). At Panionios, the advanced midfielder recorded 24 league appearances and one goal. With Győr, his last club, he played only in 5 league games and scored once.
National Team Stats & Highlights
Demollari debuted for the national team on 27 April 1983, in the 1-0 loss against Northern Ireland, eligible for European Championship qualifiers. He quickly became a solid part of the starting eleven, playing competitively in multiple consecutive qualifiers. In 1984, Demollari helped the Albania U-21 team reach the final-8 stage of the UEFA Under-21 Championship.
On 22 December 1984, he was the key player in the famous 2-0 home win against Belgium. Only two months before this win (31 October 1984), Demollari had registered with Albania a 2-2 away draw against Poland. Because of such results, the qualification campaign for the 1986 World Cup remains one of the most memorable campaigns of Albania.
Overall, Sulejman Demollari appeared in 45 games for Albania, scoring one goal against Lithuania on 14 April 1993. In 18 such games, he played as a captain. On 7 October 1995, he registered his final appearance for the Albanian team (only five minutes on the pitch in the 0-3 away loss to Bulgaria). When he retired, Demollari left a critical gap in the Albanian midfield that would take years to recover.
The stunning appearances with Albania earned Demollari a prestigious position in the national footballers’ hall of fame. He was honored with the titles of “Mjeshtër i Merituar i Sportit” (Deserved Master of Sport) and “Nderi i Sportit Shqiptar” (Honor of Albanian Sport). In all, Demollari was one of the first Albanian footballers to play and shine in international football at a club and national level.
After a great run in playing football, Demollari coached Dinamo Tirana in 2006 and the Albanian national team from 2001-2002. As a coach for Albania, he registered one win, three draws, and five losses. Other coached teams include Lushnja and Shkumbini.
* Sulejman Demollari features in our all-time top 11 Albanian football players *