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‘Why I’m proud to play for Switzerland’

Granit Xhaka lines up for Switzerland

When Granit Xhaka was 18 years old he had a tough choice to make.

Having grown up in Switzerland to Albanian parents with Kosovan roots, the midfielder was eligible to represent one of three national teams, but opted to make his debut for his country of birth against England in 2011.

Now with 48 international caps to his name, Xhaka is an established and experienced player in Switzerland’s midfield, but he still feels honoured to be able to pull on his country’s shirt.

“I’m really proud,” the 24-year-old told Arsenal Player. “What’s important is that we all get on, that we all respect each other.

“In the Swiss national team we have players with links to many different countries, maybe people who don’t just have Swiss roots. That’s why it’s very important that we respect each other, and that really works well in our team.

“Switzerland is my home, it’s where I was born and grew up, but I will never forget my parents’ roots. My blood is Albanian and nobody can take that away from me. My heart is 50:50 - I can’t say I’m more of one than the other. I have two homes, Switzerland and Kosovo, and that’s how it will always stay.

“I’m grateful for what Switzerland has done for my parents, for us. You can’t forget that. As I said, I was born and grew up there. I went to school there, I took my first steps there - both in football and in my private life. It will always be my home.”

Read more from Granit in the latest edition of the Arsenal Magazine

 

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