Queens Park Rangers manager Gareth Ainsworth has revealed that he contacted Bristol City winger Anis Mehmeti to congratulate him on his first call-up for Albania.
Mehmeti joined the Robins from Wycombe Wanderers in January and Ainsworth who was manager of the Chairboys at the time, when he departed Adams Park for a club record fee. The 22-year-old represented Albania at youth level, but earlier this week, he made his debut for the senior national team.
The former Spurs winger replaced Jasir Asani in the 70th minute as Albania fell to a 1-0 defeat to Poland in their EURO 2024 qualifier. Before he made his debut, it was revealed that Ainsworth rang up his former player to congratulate him, after playing a key role in his journey to the international stage.
Mehmeti had been released by Norwich, and had to drop in to the lower league with Woodford Town, before getting back into the professional game with Wycombe's reserve team. He has since gone on to become one of the most highly rated young players in the EFL, and Ainsworth said his journey is all down to him.
"I called him last week to congratulate him on his call-up," said Ainsworth to VAVEL journalist Harry Ware. I'm really proud of a boy who was playing non-league football three years ago.
"He can get to the Premier League, without a doubt. He said thanks Gaffer, but I just said I've done 1%, you've done 99% Anis. I've just given him the platform."
Mehmeti and Ainsworth will get to reunite on the final day of the season, when Bristol City travel to Loftus Road to face QPR on Monday, May 8. Ainsworth departed Wycombe a few weeks after Mehmeti had left, as he decided to end his 13-year long relationship with the club, to take the reigns at his former team. It will be a different experience for Ainsworth, who at the start of the season was managing Mehmeti, and will now have to work out how to mark him out of the game.
He said: “To be playing for Albania is a dream come true for him. I think he'll be a regular for Albania. "I'm hoping he goes on to achieve huge things. Just not against us on the last day of the season I've told him."