Ghana international midfielder Winful Cobbinah has been granted Albania citizenship and passport which could pave the way for the former Hearts of Oak playmaker to switch allegiance to play for the European country, Ghanasoccernet.com can exclusively report.
Albania President Ilir Meta granted full citizenship of the south-eastern European country and together with it came a passport that would enable him to freely move in many European countries, Ghana's leading football news outfit Ghanasoccernet.com can reveal.
Cobbinah, who guided Ghana to win the Wafu Cup of Nations trophy just three years ago, has been in explosive form for Albanian top-flight side TK Tirana since joining them after that tournament in Cape Coast.
But the leader of the Albania government granted citizenship to the KF Tirana midfielder after several public calls from ordinary citizens of the country for Cobbinah to be recognised for his talents and exemplary conduct.
The 29-year-old has been granted the shock full citizenship even though he has spent just two years in Albania as five years of continous legal stay is required to apply for citizenship.
Below is the Albania government decree granting Cobbinah citizenship
It means he now has his Ghana passport and can still play for the Black Stars for which he has three caps.
Given that the Ghanaian has not spent five years in Albania, the decision by the President of the country - who is also an ardent supporter of KF Tirana - to hand citizenship to the Ghanaian speaks volumes of how he is rated in that country.
Many also view this move by the Albanian government as an attempt to convince Cobbinah to switch nationality to play for them even though he has been invited to the Ghana senior national team a couple of times.
But with the softening of the nationality switch regulations of FIFA it could be a move by Albania for them to get him to play for them even though Cobbinah has not expressed interest in playing for him.
Other also say that the Albanian club side Tirana want him to play in UEFA club competitions as a native so they can bring in more foreigners.
Cobbinah follows other African football players including the well-known Abraham Alechenu, Charles Ofoye and James Adeniyi who have all received Albanian passport in the past.
The former Hearts of Oak star played an influential role for the side as they clinched the Katergoria Superiore last season, ending a 11-year top-flight drought with their last success dating back in the 2008/2009 season.
Since joining from Ghanaian giants Hearts of Oak two years ago, Cobbinah has been a mainstay of the side, scoring 10 goals in a combined 58 matches so far and making several assists.
The poster boy has been rewarded by the country's President after granting his citizenship just within two years.
By Patrick Akoto