Belfast Telegraph

The lowdown on Albania

Info on Northern Ireland's opponents

MAKING YOUR MIND UP: In Albania, nodding the head means no, and shaking the head means yes. No is accompanied by a slight raising of the eyebrows, sometimes accompanied by a gentle click of the tongue.

EAGLE TO IMPRESS: The Golden Eagle is the national emblem of Albania and the national flag comprises a two-headed eagle.

LET’S PARTY: Albania was the last country in Europe to hold multi-party elections, in March 1991.

ON THEIR UPPERS: Albanians usually remove their shoes inside their homes or other people's houses. If you are visiting an Albanian home, you will be offered a pair of slippers or plastic sandals to wear while you are indoors.

WISDOM IS KEY: Norman Wisdom remains a cult icon in Albania, where he was the only Western actor whose films were allowed in the country during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. He is known as “Mr Pitkin” after his gormless character from his films. In 1995 he was granted the freedom of the city of Tirana.

GOTTA ROLL WITH IT: Albania is the 13th largest |producer of figs in the world.

THE LAST KING: King Zog was the final king of Albania. Formerly known as Ahmed Zogu he secured foreign support for an army to invade the country and in 1925, Albania was proclaimed a republic under his |presidency.

KICKED OUT: On March 14, 2008, Albania was suspended from international football (FIFA and UEFA), due to heavy political interference in the FA. The suspension lasted 46 days.

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