AGONA Profile: Fjorin Durmishaj, Olympiacos’ latest arrival from Nea Smyrni
Fjorin Durmishaj, the 22-year-old Greek international striker, recently made the move to Olympiacos after impressing with Panionios. The AGONA Profile analyses his fascinating career to date.
EARLY MOVE FROM ALBANIA TO GREECE, FOOTBALLING BEGINNINGS IN RHODES
Durmishaj was born and brought up in Vlore, but when he was six years of age, his parents made the decision to leave Albania in search of a better life in Greece. The family settled on the picturesque island of Rhodes, and although their standard of living was higher than in their home country, they were still struggling to make ends meet.
Nevertheless, football came to Durmishaj’s rescue. Impressed by Durmishaj’s talents when seeing him play in Rhodes, Panionios FC gave him a chance in 2009, signing him up to their academy and taking him to the promised land of Athens. It’s worth noting that Durmishaj had learnt Greek fluently after moving to Rhodes.
PROGRESSION AT PANIONIOS, MAIDEN KALLITHEA LOAN
It didn’t take long for Durmishaj to make progress in the Panionios youth set-up. After a short stint with the under 17 side, he was promoted to the U20 team, and he was eventually given a shot with the seniors in the 2014/2015 campaign.
Durmishaj’s debut for the Panionios main team arrived on October 29, 2014 in a 1:1 draw with Olympiacos in the Greek Cup. He then played against Veria FC and AEL Kalloni in the Super League, but in the ensuing January transfer window, Panionios sent him out on loan to Kallithea to gain playing time.
SWIFT RETURN TO KALLITHEA
In the second half of the season, Durmishaj managed to score his maiden goals at professional level, bagging six in the Football League. Incidentally, his first was tallied against AEK FC, a game which Kallithea contrived to lose 1:5.
His promising form with Kallithea convinced Panionios to hand him a chance in their squad for the 2015/2016 season. On the first matchday of the Super League, Durmishaj was given 65 minutes on the pitch in a 0:3 defeat to Olympiacos, but he subsequently fell out of favour and was once again loaned to Kallithea in January.
In contrast to his first spell at Kallithea, Durmishaj didn’t enjoy great success with the Athenian club this time around, only scoring the one Football League goal in 12 games.
LAMIA LOAN FOR ENTIRE 2016/2017 SEASON
Cue another loan. Fully aware of Durmishaj’s potential, Panionios didn’t want to part with him on a permanent basis, and the Nea Smyrni-based club took the decision to loan him to Football League side Lamia for the entire 2016/2017 season.
That was when Durmishaj really began to make notable progression. In the opening six rounds of the Football League season, he scored three goals, in turn gaining a place in the Lamia starting line-up which gave him an ideal platform on which to develop. Durmishaj ended the campaign with eight goals and three assists.
RETURN TO PANIONIOS, OLYMPIACOS TRANSFER
Panionios had been convinced enough by Durmishaj’s displays with Lamia to keep him in Nea Smyrni. For the majority of the 2017/2018 season, the striker was a key part of the Panionios team, netting four goals in the Super League (including the winner at Panathinaikos) while scoring an added two in the Greek Cup:
Durmishaj came to the fore in the 2018/2019 season. Visibly growing in confidence, he began to hit the target with more regularity, with his first goals of the season arriving in a 2:0 triumph at Apollon Smyrnis in Rizoupoli:
Overall, Durmishaj finished with 11 goals in all tournaments, and five of them were scored in Panionios’ impressive run to the Greek Cup quarter-finals. In that particular tie against PAOK, Durmishaj beat opposing goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis twice, but the Dikefalos tou Vorra launched a dramatic comeback at the Toumba Stadium to deny Panionios a famous win:
Olympiacos pounced and Durmishaj has become the next in a long line of players to make the short trip from Nea Smyrni to Piraeus. It goes without saying that representing Olympiacos comes with a completely different level of pressure and expectation, but Durmishaj does have the tools which can make him a useful player for the Erythrolefki.
NATIONAL TEAM CONTROVERSY
Unfortunately, before he was snapped up by Olympiacos, everyone knew Durmishaj became of a national team scandal. An Albanian national by birth, Durmishaj initially represented his native country at youth level, playing for the U17, U19 and U21 teams.
As a result of that fact, many fans were against his inclusion in the Greek national team, but Durmishaj refused to represent Albania at senior level as he chose Greece instead. Durmishaj made his debut for the Ethniki Omada in a 1:2 friendly loss to Turkey in late May.