Shortly after being named as Albania’s new coach in January last year, Sylvinho encountered a dilemma. He had ambitious plans for a new tactical approach, but lacked the players to execute it, especially on the right wing. The solution came from Albania’s analysts, who had been working on a database since 2017 to uncover hidden talents with Albanian heritage around the world.

Albania’s unique situation, with a large diaspora population of up to nine million Albanians living abroad, presented a challenge and an opportunity. The database compiled by Alarico Rossi and his team was instrumental in identifying players like Jasir Asani, a winger playing in South Korea, who had not represented any national team before.

The success story of Asani, along with other players like Armando Broja born in England to Albanian parents, highlights the importance of tracking players with Albanian heritage. This process involves manual searches through numerous football leagues worldwide, looking for evidence of Albanian roots and overcoming hurdles like passports, visas, and competition from other national teams.

Rossi’s dedication to monitoring the global football landscape has paid off, with Albania’s squad being a diverse mix of players from 12 different countries. Despite the challenges of communication and varied footballing backgrounds, Albania’s multicultural approach has proven successful, leading them to qualify for the Euros and perform well under Sylvinho’s leadership.

As Albania gears up to face tough opponents like Italy, Croatia, and Spain in the group stages, their reliance on the game-changing database and the unity of their multicultural team will be put to the test. Despite the odds stacked against them, Albania’s readiness for the upcoming challenges showcases the power of embracing diversity and heritage in football.