New year, new start for Sead Hajrovic. At least he thinks it might be. For the promising young defender, who has represented Switzerland at youth level and won the 2009 Under-17 World Cup with them, has a big decision to make on his international future.
Hajrovic, whose parents are from Bosnia, earned a shock call-up to the full squad for their friendly against Slovenia last month. It was not something he had expected but it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
While he did not feature in the match in Ljublijana, he admits he is now “80 per cent” certain to commit his future to Bosnia rather than Switzerland. But it will not be an easy choice, especially as his brother, Izet, made his full debut for the Switzerland national team in November.
"The Swiss FA have treated me really well and I’m really thankful for everything they have done for me. But this is the first team, and I’m not going to miss out on that"
“It was a really big surprise for me to be called up to the first team,” Hajrovic told Arsenal.com. “I’ve been playing for Switzerland for my whole life, from under-15s to under-20s.
“I’m Bosnian and Swiss. Both my parents are Bosnian, I was born in Switzerland and my brother was born in Switzerland. We started playing for the Swiss national team and applied for Swiss passports. Now we’ve got both passports so we are Swiss-Bosnian.
“But the Bosnians showed a bit more interest and called me up. As soon as I heard, I got more confident. I went and had a look at what the set-up was like, and I’m hopefully going to play for them in the future.
“The Swiss FA have treated me really well and I’m really thankful for everything they have done for me. But this is the first team, and I’m not going to miss out on that.”
Hajrovic felt slightly overawed to be rubbing shoulders with full Bosnian internationals on the trip to Slovenia, but he picked up some valuable tips.
“It was really nice to get to know people like Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic,” he said. “I felt like a little boy there but nobody treated me like that. Everything was nice and it was great fun.
"Spahic has always been a great role model for me. I always watched him play but I never thought I’d get to know him and maybe play alongside him in the future"
“I spoke to the captain, Emir Spahic. I’m still speaking to him on the phone now I’m back as well. He always gives me advice, like how to use my body better and how to jump well.
“He’s always been a great role model for me. I always watched him play but I never thought I’d get to know him and maybe play alongside him in the future. When I got back from being with the Bosnia squad, I had more energy and confidence in myself. It’s a great experience for me to be there.”
For now, though, Hajrovic is concentrating on domestic matters. He is expected to feature for Arsenal Under-21s at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and hopes to continue in the sort of form that caught the eye of Bosnia coach Safet Suši?.
“The season is going nicely, I’m doing really well at the moment,” he said. “It’s been a great season so far. The NextGen Series has given me a bit more experience and playing time.
“It’s great to travel with the team and see different countries, as well as playing against sides that play in a different way.
“My contract runs out in the summer but until then I’m going to play for Arsenal, give my best, play some good games and then we’ll see what happens.”
- We will have live tweets from The Hawthorns on the @ArsenalLive account from 12.55pm (UK time) on Sunday
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