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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

The Swiss Connection


Source for images Lazio Wiki

Switzerland is famous for its mountains and stunning landscape, clocks, cheese, chocolate, skiers, multiple languages, banks, wealth, but it also has a surprisingly good football tradition.

 

The Swiss were one of the pioneers of European football. They were involved in the setting up of several clubs such as Inter, Milan and Barcelona.

 

The Swiss national team have taken part in 12 World Cups. They reached the quarter finals in 1934, 1938 and 1954. The "Red Crosses" have also participated in 5 European Championships, their best result being the quarter finals of 2020.  In the current  2024 edition they stunned Italy 2-0 in the last 16 and then lost the quarter finals against England after a penalty shoot out.

 

At club level the team with most titles is Grasshoppers (Zurich) with 27, followed by Basel 20, Servette 17 (Geneva), Young Boys 16 (Berne) and Zurich 13. The reigning champions are Grasshoppers.

 

At European level the best results were achieved by Zurich when they reached the European Cup semi-final in both 1963-64 and 1976-77. Grasshoppers and Basel reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup/Europa League in 1977-78 and 2012-13. Luzern, Zurich and Grasshoppers reached the quarter finals of the Cup Winners Cup in 1960-61, 1973-74 and 1989-90 respectively. In the new Conference League, Basel reached the semi-finals in 2022-23.

 

Switzerland are currently ranked 19th in the world FIFA.

 

The best players in Swiss history include: Max Abegglen, Yann Sommer, Xherdan Shaqiri, Heinz Hermann, Stéphane Chapuisat, Alexander Frei, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Granit Xhaka, Hakan Yakin, Gregor Kobel, Valon Behrami, Manuel Akanji, Gökhan Inler, Phillipe Senderos, Alain Sutter, Remo Freuler, Blerim Dzemaili.

 

Some of these and more have played or are still playing in Serie A. Lazio have had 4 Swiss players in their history.

 

Here is a list of some of these players:

 

Early 1900's

 

Herbert Kilpin - all-rounder (Internazionale Torino 1891-1899, Milan 1900-1908, 26 league games with 7 goals). He also coached Milan and was one of the main founders of the club itself.

 

Kurt Lies - defender (Milan 1900-01, Genoa 1904-06). He won a Scudetto in 1901. He was also one of the founders of the club.

 

Ettore Negretti - forward (Milan 1901-02). He won a Scudetto in 1901.

 

Hans Heinrich Suter - defender (Milan 1901-05). He won a Scudetto in 1901.

 

Alfred Cartier - defender (Milan 1902, Genoa 1902, Milan 1903, Genoa 1903, 1906 and won a Scudetto with Genoa). He then became a banker.

 

Paul Arnold Walty - midfielder (Milan 1902-04, Juventus 1905). He won a Scudetto in 1905.

 

Étienne Buignon - defender (Genoa 1903-06). He won 2 Scudetti 1903, 1904 (scoring in final).

 

Friedrich Bollinger - defender (Juventus 1903, 1906, Torino 1906-1914).

 

Oscar Joseph Grieger - midfielder (Milan 1905-06). He won a Scudetto in 1906.

 

Ernst Widmer - forward (Milan 1905-08). He won 2 Scudetti 1906, 1907.

 

Alfred Bosshard - midfielder (Milan 1906-10). He won 2 Scudetti 1906, 1907.

 

Hans Walter Imhoff - forward (Milan 1906-08). He won 2 Scudetti 1906, 1907 and scored a hat-trick on his debut.

 

Ugo Reitmann - midfielder (F.C Bergamo 1905-06, Milan 1906-07, Inter 1909). He then became a referee and was one of the founders of the A.I.A (The Referee Association).

 

Oscar Frey - midfielder (Juventus II 1905-06, LAZIO 1907, Torino 1907, Juventus 1909-11). He won a Campionato Romano with Lazio.

 

Karl Hopf - midfielder (Milan 1908, Inter 1909).

 

Werner Kummer - midfielder (Inter 1909).

 

Louis Rauch - forward (Bologna 1909-11, then manager and president). He was one of the founders of the club in 1909.

 

Bernard Schüler - forward (Inter 1909-11, 23 league games and 8 goals). He won a Scudetto in 1910.

 

Karl Egli - midfielder (Juventus 1910-1912, 25 league games)

 

Ermanno Aebi - midfielder/forward (Inter 1910-1922, 142 league games with 106 goals). He won 2 Scudetti 1910, 1920. He then became a referee.

 

Albert Hintermann, Enrico Hintermann, Carlo Hintermann - Among the three founders of F.C Inter in 1908

 

Karl Egli - midfielder (Juventus 1910-1912, 25 league games).

 

Charles Comte - forward (Genoa 1911-12, Savona 1912, Juventus 1912-13).

 

Max Fuller - defender (Juventus 1911-14)

 

Ernst Peyer - forward (Padova 1914-21, 26 league games with 7 goals). He was then Padova manager.

 

1950's

 

Roger Vonlanthen - forward (Inter 1955-57, Alessandria 1957-59, 97 league games with 22 goals)

 

1990's

 

Kubilay Turkyilmaz - forward (Bologna 1990-93, Brescia 2000-01, 92 league games with 24 goals.

 

In this period, 1993-96, Lazio had a Swiss born and bred player called Roberto Di Matteo but as he is Italian, he will be considered as such.

 

Marco Pascolo - goalkeeper (Cagliari 1996-97, 14 league games). He left for Nottingham Forest.

 

Ramon Vega - defender (Cagliari 1996-97, 14 League games). He then joined Tottenham.

 

Ciriaco Sforza - midfielder (Inter 1996-97, 26 league games with 1 goal). He then returned to Kaiserslautern but also played for Bayern Munich where he won a Champions League.

 

Late 90's and 2000's

 

Guerino Gottardi - defender /midfielder - Lazio



Guerino Gottardi arrived at Lazio in 1995 from Neuchâtel Xamax. He stayed 9 seasons.

 

 

Gottardi was a man for all seasons in the sense he could play both sides of defence and both sides of midfield. He played 84 league games with 1 goal (Empoli), 32 in Coppa Italia with 2 goals (Roma and Milan) and 26 in Europe (UCL 10, CWC 5, UC 11) with 2 goals (Auxerre, Real Madrid).

 

He won a Scudetto (2000), 3 Coppa Italias (1998, 2000, 2004) 2 Italian Supercoppas (1998, 2000) a European Cup Winners Cup (1999) and a UEFA Super Cup (1999).

 

His finest hour came in the 1998 Coppa Italia triumph. He scored the winning goal, in injury time, in the return quarter final leg against Roma (Lazio won a record 4 derbies in a season). Then in the final he scored the equaliser against Milan and a few minutes later won a penalty leading to Lazio’s 3-1 win. It was Lazio's first silverware in 24 years.

 

He also got the satisfaction of scoring at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid, not something everyone can say.

 

Gottardi was a versatile player. He was not the most talented but made up for it with his tactical discipline and determination making him a fan favourite. He had his own chant by the fans, something along the lines of "We are only happy if Guerino plays, we don't care if he plays well or badly, we want him in the national team" (he also has Italian Citizenship).

 

David Sesa - midfielder (Lecce 1998-2000, Napoli 2000-04, Palazzolo 2005, SPAL 2006-08, Rovigo 2008-10, 276 league games with 40 goals).

 

Francesco di Iorio - defender (Salernitana 1999-2001, 32 league games with 2 goals). He left for San Gallo.

 

Marco Paladino - midfielder (Catania 2004-05, Piacenza 2005-08, Sampdoria 2008-12, Vicenza 2012-14, 233 league games with 11 goals). He then joined Lugano.

 

Valon Behrami - midfielder - Lazio


Source Lazio Wiki

Valon Behrami arrived at Lazio in 2005. He had played a season with Genoa and one on loan with Verona. He stayed three seasons in Rome.

 

In 2005-06 the manager was Delio Rossi. Lazio had a good season finishing 6th but were demoted to 16th for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal. Behrami played 26 league games with 2 goals (Fiorentina, Empoli) and 2 games in Coppa Italia.

 

In 2006-07 Lazio finished 3rd and qualified for a Champions League preliminary which they then won (the preliminary…). Behrami played less due to injury, 17 league games with 1 goal (Udinese).

 

In his last year Lazio finished 12th. Behrami played 22 league games with 1 goal (Roma), 5 games in Coppa Italia with 1 goal (Fiorentina) and 5 games in the Champions League.

 

He was the hero of Lazio's 3-2 derby win on March 19. With the score on 2-2 he scored the winner in the 93rd minute, at the Curva Nord end...priceless.

 

In total he played 77 games for Lazio.

 

In 2008 he joined West-Ham United but returned to Italy in January 2011 with a season and a half at Fiorentina (48 league games and 2 in Coppa Italia).

 

In 2012 he joined Napoli for two seasons (54 league games, 3 in Coppa Italia and 12 in Europe). He won a Coppa Italia in 2014.

 

In 2014 he left for Hamburg for a season, then two with Watford before returning to Italy.

 

In 2017 he joined Udinese for two seasons (39 league games with 2 goals- Genoa, Cagliari). His managers included former Lazio coach, Igor Tudor.

 

He then spent a brief spell with Sion before returning to Genoa in January 2020. He stayed two and a half seasons (77 league games and 1 in Coppa Italia).

 

In January 2022 he moved to his last club Brescia, in Serie B. He only played 5 league games before retiring.

 

In total in Italy, he played 415 games in Italy (271 in Serie A). He also won 83 caps for Switzerland with 2 goals (Slovakia, Turkey).

 

Behrami was a midfielder. He was dynamic, strong and athletic. He could play in various midfield roles but even played full-back.

 

He now works as a TV pundit and is married to world class Swiss skier Lara Gut.

 

Johann Vogel - midfielder (Milan 2005-06, 14 league games). He left for Betis Seville.

 

Gaetano Berardi - defender (Brescia 2006-12, Sampdoria 2012-14, 147 league games). He then joined Leeds United

 

Migjen Basha - midfielder (8 teams including Frosinone, Atalanta, Torino and Bari 2006-2018, 297 league with 15 goals). He left for Aris Thessalonikis.

 

Alain Nef - defender (Piacenza 2006-09, Udinese 2008-09, Triestina 2009-10, 106 league games with 6 goals). He left for Young Boys.

 

Zdravo Kuzmanović - midfielder (Fiorentina 2007-09, Inter 2013-15, Udinese 2016, 128 league games with 3 goals). He then joined Malaga.

 

Gökhan Inler - midfielder (Udinese 2007-11, Napoli 2011-15, 259 league games with 15 goals and 2 Coppa Italia wins with Napoli). He left for Leicester City where he won the Premier League.

 

Reto Ziegler - defender (Sampdoria 2007-11, Juventus 2011, Sassuolo 2013-14, 145 league games with 4 goals). He left for Sion. He also played for Tottenham, Fenerbahçe, Hamburg and Wigan.

 

Phillipe Senderos - defender (Milan 2008-09, 14 league games). He then joined Arsenal but then also played for Everton, Fulham, Valencia, Aston Villa and Rangers amongst others.

 

Jonathan Rossini - defender (13 teams including Sampdoria, Sassuolo and Parma 2008-2023, 137 league games with 3 goals). Now plays 5-a-side football with CDM Genova

 

Blerim Dzemaili - midfielder (Torino 2008-09, Parma 2009-11, Napoli 2011-14, Genoa 2015-16, Bologna 2016-17 and 2017-20, 280 league games with 31 goals and 2 Coppa Italia wins with Napoli).

 

Stephan Lichtsteiner - defender - Lazio


Source Lazio Wiki

Stephan Lichtsteiner joined Lazio in 2008 from Lille. He stayed three seasons.

 

In 2008-09 the manager was Delio Rossi. Lazio finished 10th but won the Coppa Italia, beating Sampdoria on penalties, so qualified for the Europa League. He played 33 league games with 1 goal (Roma) and 6 games in Coppa Italia. He scored the third goal in the 4-2 derby triumph. He also scored his penalty, the 6th, in the Coppa Italia final shoot-out.

 

In 2009-10 Davide Ballardini took over and immediately won the Italian Supercoppa beating the seemingly invincible Inter 2-1. In the league things did not go well and Ballardini was sacked in February, with Lazio risking relegation, and replaced by Edy Reja. Lazio improved and finished 12th. Lichsteiner played 33 league games with 2 goals (Siena, Milan), 2 games in Coppa Italia, 7 in Europa League plus the Supercoppa.

 

The 2010-11 season was his last in Rome. Reja stayed on and Lazio finished 5th (Europa League). Lichtsteiner played 34 league games and 1 game in Coppa Italia.

 

At Lazio he played a total of 117 games (100 in A).

 

In 2011 he joined Juventus. He stayed 7 seasons and won 7 Scudetti, 4 Coppa Italias and 3 Supercoppas (3 under Antonio Conte and 4 Max Allegri). Juventus also reached two Champions League finals but lost to Barcelona in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2017. Lichtsteiner played 201 league games with 12 goals, 17 games in Coppa Italia with 1 goal, 35 in Europe and 5 Supercoppa finals.

 

He then left Italy and spent one season with Arsenal and one with Augusta in Germany.

 

In Italy he played a total of 375 games (301 in A) with 18 goals.

 

He also won 108 Swiss caps with 8 goals.

 

Lichtsteiner was a right full-back but could also play in right midfield.  He was an athletic player basing his play on his stamina and physicality. He could attack and defend and had a fiery temperament.

 

He had a good three years at Lazio but fell out with the fans on his return with Juventus due to his excessive and provocative celebrations.

 

Michel Morganella - defender (Palermo 2009-10, Novara 2010-12, Palermo 2012-18, Padova 2019, Livorno 2019-20, 194 league games with 3 goals). He left for Chiasso.

 

2010 to present day

 

Haris Seferovic - forward (Fiorentina 2010-11, Lecce 2012, Fiorentina 2012-13, Novara 2013, 28 league games with 9 goals). He left for Real Sociedad. He also played for Benfica, Eintracht Frankfurt, Galatasaray and Celta Vigo.

 

Steve von Bergen - defender (Cesena 2010-12, Genoa 2012, Palermo 2012-13, 88 league games with 1 goal). He then joined Young Boys.

 

Gelson Fernandes - midfielder (Chievo 2010-11, Udinese 2012,45 league games with 3 goals). Had previously played for Manchester City and Leicester City and later played for Rennes and Eintracht Frankfurt.

 

In this period, 2011-15, Lazio had a player with Swiss citizenship called Lorik Cana but as he is also Albanian and won 93 caps for the "Shqipojat" (Eagles) he will not be counted as Swiss here.

 

Mattia Desole - defender (Milan 2012-14, Monza on loan 2012-13, Foligno 2013, 10 league games). He then joined FC Rapperswil-Jona.

 

Alessandro Martinelli - midfielder (Portogruaro 2012-13, Venezia 2013-14, Modena 2014-15, Brescia 2015-19, Palermo 2019-20, 206 league games with 4 goals).

 

Innocent Emeghara - forward (Siena 2013, Livorno 2013-14, 47 league games with 11 goals). He left for Qarabağ.

 

Silvan Widmer - defender (Udinese 2013-18, 131 league games with 5 goals). He left for Basel and now plays for Mainz.

 

Xherdan Shaqiri - midfielder (Inter 2015, 15 league games with 1 goal). He left for Stoke City. He also played for Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

 

Joel Untersee - defender (Brescia 2016-17, Empoli 2017-19, 57 league games)

 

Edimilson Fernandes - midfielder (Fiorentina 2018-19, 29 league games with goals). He left for Mainz.

 

Denis Zakaria - midfielder (Juventus 2022, 11 league games with 1 goal). He left for Chelsea on loan and is now with Monaco.

 

Now 2023-24


In A: Remo Freuler (Bologna, previously Atalanta), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino, previously Milan)

Noah Okafor (Milan), Michel Aebischer (Bologna), Dan Ndoye (Bologna), Yan Sommer (Inter), Nedim Bajrami (Sassuolo, previously Empoli) - also Albanian.

 

In B: Simon Sohm (Parma, promoted), Samuel Bellet (Como, promoted), Pajtim Kasami (Sampdoria), Natan Girma (Reggiana)

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