A few months back I spent some time in Kosovo covering the newly minted national team’s debut World Cup campaign. Before I left for Albania, I went to the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica.
Mitrovica remains a divided city. The south of the city is overwhelmingly Kosovar Albanian, the north Serbian. KFOR forces still patrol the Ibar river that cuts through Mitrovica. It used to be one of the richest cities in Yugoslavia thanks to the Trepca mine, a huge underground complex that once employed 20,000 people.
There was a football team too, which once played in the Yugoslav First League alongside the likes of Red Star and Partizan Belgrade. The various wars, however, split Yugoslavia, split Mitrovica and, eventually, split the city’s football club.
There are now two Trepcas, one playing in the Kosovo first division, and one in the Serbian fourth division. (In fact there is a third, Trepca 89, but it isn’t connected with either). I spent a week in the city and travelled with both teams for a fixture to find out about Trepca’s history, and maybe a little about Mitrovica’s future.