Ansi Agolli: “I have a little bit of experience during my journey in football, so I try to express this experience with my teammates and to help them, not only when I have the ball, but when the team has the ball.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
NEW YORK – All things considered, Ansi Agolli’s transition to the New York Cosmos has been a seamless one.
The Albanian national team captain has fit right into his role at left back as the team prepares for the National Premier Soccer League season later this month.
“For me, the first goal is to adapt myself, my skills, and my character with my teammates,” he said. “I am very happy on how things are going.”
That went double for head coach Carlos Mendes, who has marveled with Agolli’s ability to meld with his new teammates in such a short time since joining the squad for preseason training less than a month ago.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “For the level and how successful he has been, he’s very, very humble. He’s a great professional. I think it’s made it an easy transition. The guys look up to him. He comes in and works hard every single day. I just think his mentality, his attitude, the way he carries himself, has made his jelling to the team and locker room very, very easy. Guys have a lot of respect for him. We’re very happy to have him. He’s a great player, but also a great person who has a great mentality. He’s very good for the club.”
When someone mentioned how his experience has helped the team, Agolli showed his humble side this week.
“I have a little bit of experience during my journey in football, so I try to express this experience with my teammates and to help them, not only when I have the ball, but when the team has the ball,” he said.
Agolli has liked what he has seen from his teammates as they prepare for a new season.
“Things are coming along good,” he said “Every day we’re getting better. We’re on a good road for this year. We are working every day. We are making good progress against good teams. Step by step we are going to a good road.”
For years, Agolli had commuted from Albania and Azerbaijan – he starred with Qarabag for the past nine years — to visit his wife and child who had been living in Astoria, Queens.
Now, he can play soccer and be with his family every day.
“It is great. Finally, I am back home,” Agolli said with a smile. “It is very good to be with the family and to do what you have to do, to do more.”
April 27 can’t come soon enough for the 36-year-old Agolli. That’s when the Cosmos will kick off their NPSL season against New York Athletic Club at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y., that Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I am very excited,” he said. “Of course, I am pushing myself, giving everything in training to help the team and be ready for the opening game. All the team is very excited. We’re waiting for this game.”