Mario Mitaj is one of the great stars, even at a young age, of the Albanian National Team. In the qualifiers for Euro 2024, the left-back has been solid and won the starting line-up, quickly becoming an undisputed starter.
After Albania began their Euro 2024 qualifiers against Poland with Ivan Balli, Mitaj would soon break into Sylvinho's line-up in place of the Rayo Vallecano man.
Mitaj, starting from the match with Moldova in "Air Albania", ensured the place of the starter. Since then, the 20-year-old talent of Lokomotiv Moscow has played all qualifying matches with full minutes. And, his performances have been of a satisfactory level, being evaluated with a grade of 6.9 in total by "Sofascore".
But, apart from a quality footballer, Mitaj also represents something else for Albania. He represents that group of players who have refused to play for Greece even though they were born there. They are actually very few.
We remember that a few years ago, Albania was rejected by a large number of talents born in Greece. But now it seems that history has turned the page.
Mitaj was born in Athens on August 6, 2003, with parents from the Vermoshi area in the north of Albania. He grew up in the academy of the famous Greek club AEK and would then break into the first team.
Good performances with AEK led Lokomotiv to spend 3 million euros to transfer Mita to Moscow in the summer of 2022.
Mitaj's approach to the Albanian national team is a bet won by the Albanian Football Federation (AFHF). It is already known that it is not easy to approach Albanian talents born and raised in Greece, but the AFL has carried out the "kidnapping of the decade" with Mita.
Of course, the player's desire was the key factor in his approach to the Reds and Blacks. Some time ago, when Mitaj was still 15 years old, two factors were reported in the media that influenced this direction. The first was that the player himself wanted to represent Albania, rejecting the invitation of the Greeks three times, and the second was related to the fact that he did not have a Greek passport and could not represent them in international competitions.
However, Mitaj himself claimed some time ago that Greece had wanted him, he even had contact with his father where he expressed all his faith in the defender, but in the end he chose to listen to his "heart" and represent Albania.
"For me, being called up to the national team was always a dream, but I have to admit that I didn't foresee it at such a young age", said Mitaj some time ago.
“Jam grumbulluar disa herë me kombëtaren greke të moshave dhe drejtuesit grekë kanë komunikuar me babanë tim disa herë. E kanë garantuar që besojnë shumë tek unë dhe që presin vendimin tonë që t’i bashkohemi kombëtares greke”,vijonte futbollisti 20-vjeçar.
Në fund, duket se përfaqësimi i Shqipërisë ishte më bindës për talentin e ri. Mitaj e nisi karrierën me kombëtaren kuqezi nga U-16, për të arritur më pas te U-17, U-20 dhe U-21.
Pasi u paraqit në të gjithë grupmoshat kuqezi, ai fitoi ndeshjen e tij të parë për skuadrën e të rriturve të Shqipërisë më 31 mars 2021, në një fitore 2–0 ndaj San Marinos për kualifikueset e Kupës së Botës Evropiane FIFA 2022. Me këtë paraqitje, ai u bë lojtari i dytë më i ri ndërkombëtar i Shqipërisë, 17 vjeç e 237 ditë (Çepele i pari me 17 vjeç e 235 ditë).
Despite debuting with the A team in the match against San Marino, Mitaj returned to the U-21. The former red and black coach, Edy Reja, recalled the defender in the friendly against Saudi Arabia, where he was activated for 45 minutes. However, it is worth noting that it was a match where the red and black team consisted mainly of U-21 and Abissnet Superiores players.
With the departure of Reja and the approach of Sylvinho to the National Team, Mitaj's brilliance is increasing. As we mentioned above, after not playing in the first qualifying match, Mitaj has already turned into the new star and the left wing has been armored with him for several years.