Sokol Cikalleshi (Albanian pronunciation: ['sɔkɔl 'tsikaɫɛʃi]; born 27 July 1990) is an Albanian professional footballer who plays as forward for Turkish club Akhisar Belediyespor and the Albania national team.
Cikalleshi with Albania in March 2016
|Full name||Sokol Cikalleshi|
|Date of birth||27 July 1990|
|Place of birth||Kavajë, Albania|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|2011||→ Skënderbeu Korçë (loan)||4||(3)|
|2012||→ Tirana (loan)||13||(2)|
|2012||→ Incheon United (loan)||6||(4)|
|2017||→ Akhisar Belediyespor (loan)||14||(7)|
|2018–2019||→ Göztepe (loan)||7||(4)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16 May 2019|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 14 October 2019
He made his professional debut in 2007 as a 17-year-old with his hometown club Besa Kavajë, and would then go on loan to Skënderbeu Korçë, Tirana and South Korean side Incheon United between 2011 and 2012. He joined Kukësi in 2013 and scored 22 goals in all competitions during the 2013–14 campaign, where he gained the attention of the Albania national team setup as well as Croatian side RNK Split who signed the player in 2014 for a reported fee of €100,000. He was the club's top goalscorer during the 2014–15 campaign, netting 13 times in all competitions before joining Turkish club İstanbul Başakşehir for a €1.8 million fee in 2015.
He was first called up to the Albania national team by Gianni De Biasi and he made his debut on 31 May 2014 against Romania. Since making his debut he has been a regular member of the national side, and he has earned over 30 caps since 2014 and scored 6 goals.
- 1 Club career
- 2 International career
- 3 Style of play
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Career statistics
- 6 Honours
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Cikalleshi joined his hometown club Besa Kavajë in 2002 as a 12 year old and he progressed through the youth ranks at the club, until he made his professional debut at the age of 17 on the final day of the 2007–08 Albanian Superliga against local rivals Teuta Durrës, a match in which he came on as a half time substitute in a 5–3 win. In the following season he was an important member of the club's under-19s, as he captained the side to the national championship title in a season where he also made 10 league appearances for the senior side, including 2 starts. Under Shpëtim Duro, Cikalleshi became a regular first team member during the 2009–10 campaign, where he was part of strike force that included Daniel Xhafaj and Vioresin Sinani, who are two of the most prolific strikers in Albanian football history. He made 27 league appearances and scored twice, with his first professional goal coming against Shkumbini Peqin on 29 August 2011 in the Albanian Superliga, and he also went on to score against Vllaznia Shkodër later in the season. The 2009–10 campaign proved to be one of the club's most successful ever season, as they finished runners-up in the Albanian Superliga behind Dinamo Tirana and won the Albanian Cup for only the second time in history. Cikalleshi played a significant role in the club's cup winning run, as he made 8 appearances and scored twice, including the winning goal in the semi final against Shkumbini Peqin. that sent Besa Kavajë to the final, which was won against Vllaznia Shkodër.
Loan to Skënderbeu KorçëEdit
He agreed to join Skënderbeu Korçë on a 6-month loan deal ahead of the opening of the January 1transfer window, and travelled with the rest of the squad to Antalya, Turkey for their mid season training camp.
Loan to TiranaEdit
Cikalleshi joined Tirana on loan until the end of the 2011–12 season on 27 January 2012 following a successful trial at the club, claiming it to be the "chance of a lifetime" to have the chance to play for the club. He made his debut for the club in the Albanian Cup against Bylis Ballsh on 29 January, where he came on as a substitute in the 63rd minute for Klodian Duro in the goalless draw.
Loan to Incheon UnitedEdit
In July 2012, Cikalleshi joined South Korean K-League club Incheon United FC on a 6-month loan deal. During his time at Blue-Blacks, Cikalleshi made six appearances, only two of them as a starter, collecting 193 minutes in the process.
In August 2013, Cikalleshi joined FK Kukësi club on a one-year contract. He made his debut with the club on 4 September 2013 during the 1–0 shock lose against the newcomers of Lushnja. He opened his scoring account eight weeks later where he scored during the 2–1 away lose against Flamurtari Vlorë, which was followed by another goal in the next week at Laçi, where Kukësi won in the very last seconds thanks to a penalty. On 6 November 2013, in the returning leg of the first round of 2013–14 Albanian Cup, Cikalleshi scored in a 5–0 thrashing of Naftëtari Kuçovë, helping Kukësi to advance in the next round with the aggregate 6–0. He scored for the fourth consecutive match, this time against his former side KF Tirana helping Kukësi to prevail 2–1 at Zeqir Ymeri Stadium; he was later selected "Man of the Match".
Following FK Kukësi's elimination in the Europa League, on 16 July 2014 Cikalleshi signed for Croatian side RNK Split on a three-year contract for a fee of €100.000. He was presented on the same day where he choose the squad number 99. However, Kukësi claimed that they would not give Cikalleshi permission to play, as his documents were still at the club. The club also added that the player has still a year remaining in his contract, and that they would send the case to FIFA and UEFA.
On 6 June 2015, RNK Split accepted the €1.8 million bid of Turkish side İstanbul Başakşehir to transfer Cikalleshi to the Süper Lig club. Ten days later Cikalleshi was presented to the club where he signed a 4-years contract.
Loan at Akhisar BelediyesporEdit
In January 2017 Cikalleshi was loaned to fellow Süper Lig side Akhisar Belediyespor until the end of the season. He made his debut few days later against Gümüşhanespor valid for the Turkish Cup playing as a starter in a 3–1 win with Akhisar Belediyespor progressing through the quarter-finals. He scored his first goal on 13 March 2017 against Trabzonspor in the 11th minute for the opening goal of the match which eventually finished in the 1–3 loss as opponent overturned in the second-half. On 1 April 2017 Cikalleshi scored 1 goal against his owning team İstanbul Başakşehir in the 90'+4 minute to give his side the 2–1 victory. On 23 April 2017 Cikalleshi scored 1 goal and provided 1 assist against Bursaspor in a 5–1 victory. In the next game week Cikalleshi gave 2 assist for all team's goals scored against Kasımpaşa in a 2–0 victory, which made Akhisar Belediyespor to secure standing in the Süper Lig for next season. On 8 May 2017 Cikalleshi scored two fast goals between 3 minutes and made also a shoot which caused an own goal by a Gaziantepspor defender. Akhisar Belediyespor took a glorious 6–0 victory. Cikalleshi scored his 6th goal on 22 May 2017 against Alanyaspor in a 3–0 victory.
Cikalleshi was included in the squad list to participate in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League Third qualifying round.
On 28 August 2017 Cikalleshi signed for fellow Süper Lig side Osmanlıspor a 3-years contract, transferring from İstanbul Başakşehir for a fee of €2 million and will earn €2.5 million per season. He made his debut in the 4th game week against Göztepe on 10 September 2017 coming on as a substitute at half-time in a 0–2 loss. Cikalleshi started the 2018 in a fenomenal way as he was given a starting place in the 2017–18 Turkish Cup round of 16 second Leg match against Beşiktaş in which he managed to score twice respectively in the 86th minute to balance the score only 3 minutes after disadvantage and in the 88th minute to give his side the 2–1 victory; however his goals weren't enough Beşiktaş advanced further after winning the first leg 4–1.
On 16 January 2019, Cikalleshi made a surprise return to Turkish top flight by signing with Akhisar Belediyespor, whom he had a successful, albeit short spell in 2016–17 season. He signed a contract until June 2022 and was given squad number 37. In his first game two days later, Cikalleshi played in the second half and scored his team's lone goal in a 1–3 home defeat to Beşiktaş.
He was part of Albania under-19 squad in the qualifiers of 2009 UEFA European Under-19 Championship. His first appearance with under-19 squad occurred on 10 October 2008 in the matchday 2 of Group 5 against Serbia which finished in a 5–0 away loss. He went on to make another appearance as Albania finished Group 9 in the last position.
In June 2009, Cikalleshi was called up by manager of Albania under-20 side Artan Bushati to be part of the team at 2009 Mediterranean Games. He played as a starter in both matches of Group D; in the first, a 1–2 loss to Tunisia, he played for 70 minutes and in the second he played the full match in a 0–3 loss to Spain which brought the elimination from the tournament.
Cikalleshi then was part of under-21 squad for the qualifiers of 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship where Albania was placed in Group 10. Cikalleshi made his competitive debut on 13 November 2009 in the matchday 6 against Austria, entering in the last moments as Albania drew 2–2. Later on 4 September 2010, with Albania already eliminated, Cikalleshi played his first match as starter in the final matchday against Azerbaijan, scoring a goal by unable to avoid the 3–2 away loss. Albania finished Group 10 in the 4th position with only 4 points from 8 matches.
After his good performances with Kukësi in the 2013–14 season, Cikalleshi received his first call up at the Albania senior squad by coach Gianni De Biasi for friendlies against Romania in May and Hungary & San Marino in June 2014. He made his international debut on 31 May in the 1–0 away loss to Romania, playing in the first half before leaving for Shkëlzen Gashi.
Cikalleshi was called-up regularly by the coach Gianni De Biasi in the team's successful UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. He was the main striker, collecting 7 appearances but failing to score any goal. On 16 November 2015, Cikalleshi came off the bench to score his first international goal for Albania in the 94th minute to give Albania the 2–2 draw in a friendly home against Georgia, in the last international match at Qemal Stafa Stadium.
Cikalleshi lost his place in the starting lineup from the beginning of 2016 due to good running form of fellow striker Armando Sadiku. He was however, named in Albania's preliminary 27-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016, and in Albania's final 23-man UEFA Euro 2016 squad on 31 May. Cikalleshi made his first appearance against Switzerland in the opening match, entering in the last 15 minutes as Albania suffered a 1–0 loss. Those were the only minutes that his played during the campaign as he was an unused substitute in the next matches against France and Romania. Albania finished the group in the third position with three points and with a goal difference –2, and was ranked last in the third-placed teams, which eventually eliminated them.
Cikalleshi was barely used in Albania's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. He made only 3 appearances, only one as starter, collecting 132 minutes without scoring. In September 2017, he was called-up and later omitted by manager Christian Panucci for the matches against Liechtenstein and Macedonia as he asked permission to conclude his transfer at Osmanlıspor.
Style of playEdit
Cikalleshi is a versatile attacking player who is known for his goalscoring ability and his aerial prowess. He is also a very strong player on the ball who is capable with both feet. In addition to that, Cikalleshi is also a great player in the air and considered as an aerial threat.
On 12 October 2017, Cikalleshi become a father for the first time when his wife gave birth to the couple's first daughter, named Rajna.
|Besa Kavajë||2007–08||Albanian Superliga||1||0||—||—||—||1||0|
|Skënderbeu Korçë (loan)||2010–11||Albanian Superliga||4||0||1||0||—||—||5||0|
|Tirana (loan)||2011–12||Albanian Superliga||13||2||9||3||—||—||22||5|
|Incheon United (loan)||2012||K-League||6||0||—||—||—||6||0|
|RNK Split||2014–15||Prva Liga||32||10||7||3||—||—||39||13|
|İstanbul Başakşehir||2015–16||Süper Lig||27||6||8||7||2[c]||0||—||37||13|
|Akhisar Belediyespor (loan)||2016–17||Süper Lig||14||7||2||0||—||—||16||7|
|2018–19||TFF First League||1||0||0||0||—||—||1||0|
|Göztepe (loan)||2018–19||Süper Lig||7||0||3||2||—||—||10||2|
|Akhisar Belediyespor||2018–19||Süper Lig||3||0||2||2||—||—||5||2|
- As of 14 October 2019. Albania score listed first, score column indicates score after each Cikalleshi's goal.
|1||16 November 2015||Qemal Stafa Stadium, Tirana, Albania||16||Georgia||2–2||2–2||Friendly|
|2||29 March 2016||Stade Josy Barthel, Route d'Arlon, Luxembourg||18||Luxembourg||2–0||2–0|
|3||11 June 2019||Elbasan Arena, Elbasan, Albania||31||Moldova||1–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 2020 qualification|
|4||7 September 2019||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||32||France||1–4||1–4|
|5||10 September 2019||Elbasan Arena, Elbasan, Albania||33||Iceland||4–2||4–2|
|6||14 October 2019||Zimbru Stadium, Chișinău, Moldova||35||Moldova||1–0||4–0|
- Besa Kavajë
- Skënderbeu Korçë
- Sokol Cikalleshi profile at FSHF.org
- "Teuta Durrës 3–5 Besa Kavajë". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Shkumbini Peqin 1–2 Besa Kavajë". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Vllaznia Shkodër 2–3 Besa Kavajë". Soccerway. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- "Shkumbini Peqin 0–1 Besa Kavajë". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- ""Godet" Skënderbeu, Zeqo arrin akordin me Cikalleshin" [Skënderbeu "strikes", Zeqo reaches the argument with Cikalleshi] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Gjata firmos për një vit e gjysmë" (in Albanian). Sport Ekspres. 27 January 2012. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- Feriz Ferizaj (27 January 2012). "Flamurtari largon Hysën, Cikalleshi huazohet te Tirana" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- Bylis Ballsh 0-0 KF Tirana Soccerway
- Feriz Ferizaj (25 November 2015). "Firmos në Kore Cikalleshi, ja detajet e kontratës" [Cikalleshi signs in Korea, here's the details of contract] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Armand Nezha (4 September 2013). "Një debutues në Superiore likujdon Kukësin, Lushnja e fillon me fitore rikthimin në elitë" (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Vladimir Prenga (3 November 2013). ""Ringjallet" dhe Kukësi, fiton me përmbysje. Laçi i Nicës pëson humbjen e parë në shtëpi". Panorama Sport (in Albanian). Retrieved 3 November 2013.
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- Jonuz Hallaçi; Adela Merko (10 November 2013). "Kukësi fundos Tiranën, Gallo drejt shkarkimit". Panorama Sport (in Albanian). Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- "Cikalleshi nga Kukësi ne Split" [Cikalleshi from Kukësi to Split] (in Albanian). Borozani.com. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Cikalleshi firmos tre vite te Split, Kukësi e kërcënon" [Cikalleshi signs for three years with Split, Kukësi threats] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Cikalleshi, gol dhe asist te Spliti" [Cikalleshi, goal and assist at Split] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- Cikalleshi, tek Istanbul në Turqi Archived 19 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Panorama Sport
- Prezantohet Sokol Cikalleshi Archived 19 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Sportal.al
- Cikalleshi e nis mbarë Sport Ekspres
- Edhe Cikalleshi ia bën "bam" Sport Ekspres
- Akhisar Belediyespor vs. Trabzonspor - 13 March 2017 Soccerway
- Cikalleshi në formë, supergol te Akhisar SuperSport Albania
- Cikalleshi gol dhe asist në fitoren e Akhisar SuperSport Albania
- Cikalleshi, "floriri" i Akisarit Sport Ekspres
- Sulltan Cikalleshi, gola e rekord: Nëse luaj rregullisht… Sport Ekspres
- Cikalleshi, tjetër gol në fitoren e Akhisarit SuperSport Albania
- Cikalleshi përfshihet në listën e Ligës së Kampioneve, Kaçe drejt rivalëve të Iraklisit Panorama Sport
- Cikalleshi: Për kombëtaren githmonë maksimumin SuperSport Albania
- "Cikalleshi debuton nga stoli, Roshit nuk i sigurojnë minuta as golat me kombëtaren" [Cikalleshi debuts from the bench, Roshi does not provide minutes even his goals with the national team] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 10 September 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
- "Çfarë starti Cikalleshi, 2 gola Beshiktashit!" [What a start by Cikalleshi, 2 goals against Besiktas!] (in Albanian). Sport Ekspres. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
- "Sokol Cikalleshi transferohet tek klubi turk" [Sokol Cikalleshi transferred to Turkish club] (in Albanian). Gazeta Shqip. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- Adi Metaliu (17 January 2018). "Befason Sokol Cikalleshi, transferohet tek Akhisari" [Sokol Cikalleshi surprises, transferred to Akhisar] (in Albanian). Gazeta Shqip. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- "VIDEO/ Cikalleshi i pabesueshëm, shënon për Akhisarsporin në ndeshjen e parë pas rikthimit" [Video/ Cikalleshi unbelievable, scores for Akhisar in the first match after returning] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- "Serbia 5-0 Albania". UEFA.com. 10 October 2008. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- "Peskara 2009, Shqipëria zbardh listën e futbollistëve" [Pescara 2009, Albania unveils the list of footballers] (in Albanian). Arkiva Shqiptare e Lajmeve. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
- ALB - TUN 1:2 (1:2) Wayback Machine
- ESP - ALB 3:0 (2:0) Wayback Machine
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- "Austria avoid a spot of bother". UEFA.com. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Abbas Zahidi (4 September 2010). "Azerbaijan record overdue win against Albania". UEFA.com. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- "Under-21 2011 - History - Standings". UEFA.com. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- ""Vetëvrasje" në fund, kuqezinjtë munden nga Rumania" ["Suicide" at the end, red&black beaten by Romania] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 31 May 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- "Jubilant Albania defy the odds to reach a maiden European Championship". Daily Mail. 11 October 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
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- "Trajneri Panucci shpall listën e lojtarëve për ndeshjet zyrtare eleminatore kundër Lihtenshteinit dhe Maqedonisë" [Manager Panucci announces the players list for the official qualifying matches against Liechtenstein and Macedonia] (in Albanian). FSHF.org. 25 August 2017. Archived from the original on 27 August 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- "Cikalleshi bëhet baba për herë të parë: Përjetova parajsën e kësaj bote!" [Cikalleshi becomes father for the first time: I experienced the paradise of this world] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Sokol Cikalleshi at Soccerway. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
- "Football : Sokol Cikalleshi". Football Database. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
- "Profile of Sokol Cikalleshi". Scoresway. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
- "Sokol Cikalleshi". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- "Sokol Cikalleshi - national football team player". EU-Football.info. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- "Sulmuesi më në formë, Cikalleshi: Nuk ndalem këtu" [In-form striker Cikalleshi: I'm not gonna stop here] (in Albanian). Panorama Sport. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.