A FORMER Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester City left-back has credited Wycombe Wanderers for having a role in helping Albania reach this year’s European Championships.

Sylvinho, who featured six times for the Brazilian national team in the early 2000s, has been the manager of the Red and Blacks since January last year, winning six of his 12 games so far.

During his 18 months in the role, he decided to take notes of several of the Chairboys’ fixtures during his first month in charge after hearing about the performances of Anis Mehmeti.

The winger was one of the best players for Wanderers that season, which included a run of scoring four times in six games.

He would then join Bristol City in the Championship at the end of that January for record fee. 

Calling an uncapped Mehmeti to the Albanian squad for the March international did raise some questions, but it has paid off as the nation is getting ready to face Italy, Croatia and Spain at this year’s championships in Germany.

Sylvinho's backroom staff include ex-Manchester City and West Ham United right-back, Pablo Zabaleta, and one-time Middlesbrough midfielder, Doriva. 

He told BBC Sport: “Zaba [Zabaleta] played for a long time in England, so he still has his contacts there and brought us some information about Mehmeti.

“We started watching him in League One, but, right after it, he signed with Bristol City in the Championship, leading us to think, ‘OK, the potential we’re seeing here, others are seeing as well'.
"We knew there were many Albanians like him playing abroad.”

Mehmeti joined Wycombe in the autumn of October 2020 and played 97 times for the Chairboys, scoring 19 times.

He has since scored four times in 57 matches for Bristol City.