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The tradition of a stadium announcer reading out the first name of a player before the crowd roar out their second name may be commonplace on the continent but is rarely seen in British football.

So when the very enthusiastic cheerleader at the Fadil Vokrri Stadium in Pristina tried this when introducing the England team on Sunday night, he was greeted by bemused silence from the away section.

Fortunately, the Kosovan locals were more than happy to join in and help us out. Just as they were more than happy to hold up St George's flags when God Save the Queen was played and wear poppies on their shirts.

Fans display the flags of Kosovo and England, as well as a 'Welcome and Respect' banner ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 qualifier at the Fadil Vokrri Stadium in Pristina

Fans display the flags of Kosovo and England, as well as a 'Welcome and Respect' banner ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 qualifier at the Fadil Vokrri Stadium in Pristina

Kosovan fans hold up the flag of St George during the playing of God Save the Queen

Kosovan fans hold up the flag of St George during the playing of God Save the Queen 

Locals were keen to express their gratitude for Britain's intervention in liberating their nation

Locals were keen to express their gratitude for Britain's intervention in liberating their nation

Just as the Bulevardi Nene Tereza (Mother Teresa Boulevard) was bedecked in the flags of England and Kosovo, which appeared in giant form above the home end in a choreographed display ahead of kick-off.

Just as the people of Pristina were keen to buy the travelling fans another bottle of Peja beer before kick-off and, even if they spoke just a few words of English, make us feel welcome 1,100 miles away from home.

One thing was for certain, this was no ordinary England away trip.

The default response of locals to an invasion from hordes of England fans following the national team is, at best, curiosity, and, at worst, suspicion and even outright hostility.

In this very same qualification campaign, there was tension in the air during visits to Montenegro and Bulgaria, two countries that border Kosovo.

But, as a home and away England fan for several years, this is the first time I've experienced such a genuinely warm reception and unabashed admiration and appreciation for this country.

Children play football in front of a display of flags in the centre of Pristina ahead of the match

Children play football in front of a display of flags in the centre of Pristina ahead of the match

The Mother Teresa Boulevard was bedecked in England and Kosovo flags for the occasion

The Mother Teresa Boulevard was bedecked in England and Kosovo flags for the occasion

The poppy featured on 'Welcome and Respect' banners hung up all over the city centre

The poppy featured on 'Welcome and Respect' banners hung up all over the city centre

Given that the Kosovo team was only admitted to FIFA in 2016, it's little surprise this was the first meeting of the two countries on Kosovan soil.

And there was a clear desire to express gratitude for the role the United Kingdom played in helping Kosovo gain its independence from Serbia in 2008.

After Kosovo declared its independence on February 17, 2008, the UK was among the first countries to officially recognise it. The following day, in fact. Within two weeks, it had established an embassy in Pristina.

That was the direct result of UK participation in the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and subsequent involvement of British troops in the NATO-led peacekeeping Kosovo Force.

The stadium where Sunday's qualifier was staged was once a base for Serb forces, who inflicted horrific persecution on the Kosovan population that amounted to ethnic cleansing.

Such is the level of gratitude, a good number of Kosovan children are named Tony after the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Half-and-half scarves for sale from one of the many merchandise stalls that had sprung up

Half-and-half scarves for sale from one of the many merchandise stalls that had sprung up

Kosovans were eager to express their thanks for Britain's role in the conflicts of the late 1990s

Kosovans were eager to express their thanks for Britain's role in the conflicts of the late 1990s

The England team and thousands of travelling fans were assured of a warm Pristina welcome

The England team and thousands of travelling fans were assured of a warm Pristina welcome

The American support for Kosovan independence is recognised by a statue to President Bill Clinton on Bulevardi Bill Klinton. Adjacent to it was a clothes shop called 'Hillary'.

The United States national side have yet to visit but in terms of quality of opposition in their 34 'official' internationals so far, England was a level well above anything previously witnessed.

It was why the first thing the England players would have noticed upon leaving Pristina Airport was an

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