Olsi Krasniqi has a story or two to tell.
Born in Albania, the Broncos’ prop was raised in Feltham – a stone’s throw from our Trailfinders Sports Club base – and found his passion in Rugby League.
He progressed through the junior ranks and made his Super League debut in 2010 under our previous name Harlequins RL. Stints with Salford Red Devils, North Wales Crusaders, Toronto Wolfpack and Bradford Bulls followed.
Now back in London, the 28-year-old has plans to guide the Broncos back into the Super League. But his ambitions are not limited to his actions on the field.
In the past year, Krasniqi has been remotely studying a Masters in Sports Business at Leeds Beckett University. His education is part of a plan to fulfil a successful career in sport when he decides to retire.
“The end of my career as an athlete is always lurking around in my mind,” said Krasniqi. “I think it does for most professionals – being a sportsperson doesn’t last forever.
“My time at Toronto really opened my eyes. We were paid late and what has happened there is a real shame as I enjoyed my time with the club, I can’t speak highly enough of some of the people there.
“My degree will help me learn what goes on behind the scenes, elements that people don’t see. Already, I am understanding how sport works through modules in economics, finance and HR.
“I want to do as much as possible to help the Broncos grow. During my first stint (2010-14) I was much younger and less mature. I now want to help the club become successful, there is so much potential and seeing positive results from afar has always been great.
“To be part of the journey is very special.”
Combining training and playing for the Broncos with his Masters degree is no issue for Krasniqi. In fact, it has only fuelled his passion to become a bigger part of the club.
He added: “London is so diverse. There are hundreds of thousands of people from different cultures and backgrounds, and we hold the power to make a real impact in the community.
“The club does a great job off-field. Aligned with our community work, I believe we can be successful on the pitch.
“We shouldn’t be playing in the Championship, we’re a club capable of being in the Super League. We are a professionally run outfit that supports players’ development on and off the field.
“The younger players especially are encouraged to pick up a skill outside of Rugby League during their time with the club which is great. It’s important to add a few strings to your bow.”
Life could have been much different for Krasniqi, who is currently side lined while he recovers from the effects of concussion.
He is down-to-earth and has tremendous gratitude for his parents. A career in professional Rugby League serves as a constant reminder of how important his parents’ move to the UK was some 20 years ago.
Remarkably, Krasniqi’s father was a professional wrestler in the 70s.
“I probably would’ve followed him into wrestling,” joked Krasniqi. “I’m handy in training. It would have been a cool career, maybe Mixed Martial Arts or something.
“For me, moving to England has worked out. But my parents have had a lot of tough years so I’m very grateful for the decisions they made.”
Krasniqi hopes to be able to pull on a Broncos’ jersey in the coming weeks. But his head injury is being treated with the upmost caution and respect meaning a timescale on his return to play is almost impossible to pin down.
He added: “We’re just seeing how symptoms go. It could be fine in a couple of days, but it could be a month.
“The club’s staff have been great; they’re not taking the knock lightly and we’re going through a few bits of rehab to piece me back together.”
With Krasniqi out of action this weekend, the Albanian will be tuning into our Betfred Championship game at Batley from home.
You can join Krasniqi in cheering on the Broncos by purchasing a matchday pass here. Kick-off on Saturday is at 2pm.