Granit Xhaka and his older brother, Taulant, have always been close. With just 18 months separating them, the pair were practically inseparable as children and still speak multiple times a day now.
But back in 2016, the siblings were faced with an unusual situation when Granit’s Switzerland were drawn against Taulant’s Albania at Euro 2016.
The brothers had both represented the country of their birth at youth level but, while Granit continued to play for Switzerland at senior level, Taulant made the decision to switch his allegiance.
“The feeling to play against your own country is unbelievable,” Granit explained recently. “You can't explain that in words. But then to play in a tournament like the Euros against your brother is something you never forget.
“My mum had a shirt which was half Switzerland and half Albania. The first thing our parents told us was to forget for 90 minutes that we are brothers. They told us to do our jobs and that after 90 minutes, we’d be together again.
“I spoke with my brother as well before the game and I said to him ‘listen, if I need to tackle you, can I?’.
It was about doing our job. We couldn’t change that, so we focused and did our job right so nobody could say something to us. After the game, I was the guy who was more happy because we won but the feeling was unbelievable.
“My brother and I are very, very close. Now we both have kids and are married with our own families. But I speak with him maybe five, six or seven times on FaceTime each day.”
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