Albania president congratulates players after historic win over Romania

Albania defender Mergim Mavraj has revealed that one of the players was rewarded with a car after the 1-0 win over Romania on Sunday brought them a first-ever major tournament victory.

The historic moment kept Albania's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage alive after their first two games, against Switzerland and France, ended in defeats.

Cologne defender Mavraj, 30, told the club's official website that Albanian president Bujar Nishani had congratulated them in the immediate aftermath of the game.

He said: "Before we hit the showers, we spoke on the phone with our president, because he is one of our biggest supporters.

"Later on in the night, all the players received diplomatic passports. Then we were able to negotiate a car for Ergys Kace. Something like that only happens here."

Mavraj said the win over Romania, sealed by a header from Armando Sadiku, had come as "a major relief."

He added: "When you lose two successive games without scoring a goal, you do start to think about how you cannot go down without putting up a fight.

"Having got the goal and the win, we can look ahead. The way we played football was not bad. It is nice that we were able to present our fans with a joyous memory.

"But we did not celebrate all that hard, because we have not achieved anything. We still do not know if we will be playing in the next round."

Mavraj said the players were "very, very proud" of the way they had performned and added: "We showed Europe that Albania is capable of playing football and that we can make the headlines for positive reasons.

"All in all, I think Albania has won as a country, regardless of whether we make the next round or not."

Albania are waiting to find out whether they will end the group stage as one of the four best third-placed teams, which would earn them a place in the next round.