LOVE was the overriding reason for Albanian Krisel Prifti signing for Stalybridge Celtic.
The 25-year-old midfielder began a new life in England late last year as he is married to English girl Helen.
And it was through the father of Celtic player Jonathan Ustabasi that Prifti arrived at Celtic after he helped set up a trial.
Prifti said: “When I knew I was coming to England I began researching teams in the area and sent many emails to them, but I did not receive one reply.
“Jonathan’s father spoke to Simon Haworth and asked him for a trial which is how I arrived here.
“I would like to say a big thank you to Simon for giving me a chance and I want to repay him by using Stalybridge as a trampoline and help them move to a higher league.”
Prifti, who has been at Bower Fold since the first day of pre-season training, has settled in well.
He explained: “The lads have been fantastic and there is a good atmosphere at the club.
“The players are polite. I have felt very comfortable here and it feels like a family.”
Prifti, who was a full-time professional in Albania where he played in the second tier, added the style of play is far removed to his home country.
He continued: “I have been impressed with the standard of football here, but it is very different to what I have previously played.
“In Albania it is like Italian football which is very structured. You play as an unit with defenders pushing upfield.
“Here there is more space to play and it is easier to play which suits me.
“I am sure I can score more goals here than I did in Albania.”
Prifti is a player of immense versatility who can play central midfield, number 10, right or left wing, right or left back.
“My favourite position is defensive midfield, though I also like being a winger and playing one against one,” he continued.
Prifti starred for KF Apolonia early in the 2019-20 season which ended with them recently winning promotion to the Super League.
And when he returns home there will be a Championship winning medal to collect, his second as he also won the second tier while on loan at Bylis.
Prifti, who had been used to playing in front of crowds as big as 4,000, had attracted attention from Albanian Super League clubs.
“I had a five-year contract at Apolonia, and they asked for a lot of money so I didn’t end up moving,” he said.
It has been a change to part-time football with Celtic training only two nights each week.
“I am still doing individual training during the day, so I am still effectively full time,” said Prifti who works two days a week at an Albanian restaurant in Bolton.
“I have always been a professional footballer so it is hard doing something else. I help as a waiter and in the kitchen.”
Prifti admitted the most challenging aspect of the move has been the English climate.
He said: “The only problem has been the weather and too much rain.
“In Albania we have 11 months of the year with warm weather and our climate is more like Greece.
“The only positive is that it is better to play football in this type of weather.”
Prifti, who has been given advice by Sheffield Wednesday’s Albanian/Kosovan player Atdhe Nuhiu, is looking forward to his competitive debut for Celtic which will be in the Emirates FA Cup at Stocksbridge Steels on September 12,
“I know all about the FA Cup from watching it on television in Albania and I cannot wait to play in the competition,” he said.
Prifti added he has always been a huge fan of English football with Liverpool his favourite team and Steve Gerrard his idol.
And he was also a great admirer of Arsenal when Thierry Henry was at his majestic best for them.