Fadil Vokrri, the head of Kosovo’s Football Federation (KFF) and one of the nation’s most prominent sportsmen, died on June 8 after a heart attack, the federation said.
Vokrri, 57, put Kosovo on the international soccer map when the small Balkan nation became a member of the sport's UEFA and FIFA governing bodies in 2016.
"This news has shaken the whole public" and "has touched the football community tremendously," the KFF said in a June 9 statement.
"He became an inspiration for many generations of Kosovo's athletes," Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj wrote on his Facebook page.
"With great pain and sadness we receive the news of [the] untimely demise of Fadil Vokrri, the brightest of our stars in football and not only football," Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci wrote on Twitter. "He won the greatest battle for our people ensuring our boys and girls play football internationally."
Vokrri played for the former Yugoslavia in the 1980s and was named the country's best player in 1987.