Granit Xhaka admits it hurts him to hear comments from former players and people in the media questioning his ability to represent Switzerland.
Speaking whilst on international duty with his country, Xhaka insisted that it doesn’t bother him when people outside his own management and coaching staff criticise his performances. When they start trying to claim he can’t represent Switzerland because of his Albanian roots though, that gets under the 25-year-old’s skin.
“Professional allegations do not bother me,” he began. “But it gets bad when such people accuse me, that I would not represent Switzerland correctly.
“It hurts! I would be lying if I said something else. I was born and raised in Switzerland. The fact that I have two hearts in my chest is a fact – by the way, I can not help it either. But I’ve been wearing the colors of this country, my home, for almost nine years!
“The accusation that I am not in favor of Switzerland goes nowhere. In Gladbach, or now in London, I am a respected Swiss citizen. And all of a sudden, I’m only supposed to be half Swiss – that hurts me, that’s stressing me, it’s hard to digest.”
The quotes are a pretty clear response to comments made by Stephane Henchoz, who told the media that Xhaka doesn’t represent Switzerland, or the team, and must never be captain.
Fortunately manager Vladimir Petkovic completely ignored Henchoz and the rest, and made Xhaka captain for the match against Iceland anyway. Switzerland ran out 6-0 winners, which should shut the doubters up for at least a day or two.
The situation is eerily reminiscent of Mesut Özil’s with Germany. When things didn’t go well, Özil and his Turkish background were constantly in the news, just like Xhaka for the last month or two. After the 6-0 win, watch how Granit becomes a proud Swiss national in their eyes. Until the next defeat, of course.