Valon Behrami has revealed that his immediate response to learning he’d be forced out of his national team was to call Granit Xhaka and give the Arsenal man his support.
In the last few days Behrami became the first victim of an apparent clear out of the older generation of Swiss players. He told the media that he’d received a call from manager Vladimir Petkovic to tell him he would no longer be playing for the national team anymore.
Perhaps you could understand if Behrami had hard feelings towards the national side for how things have ended, after he played an important role for them over so many years. However, he insists his reaction was to call Granit Xhaka and let him know he has the chance to lead the team now.
“I support Switzerland, a team that should be one unit,” Behrami said. “I immediately called Xhaka and told him: I hope you will be a real leader of this team, and I hope I could help you during my time.
“He answered that I had always been a role model for him. That he appreciates me so much and will always be there for me. These are the things that will always stay with me. I will always support Switzerland.”
With rumours that Stephan Lichtsteiner could also be pushed out of the side, there’s a real opportunity for Xhaka to nail down a spot as the team’s captain.
The midfielder is only 25 years old, but already has masses of experience at a high level, including captaining Borussia Monchengladbach at the age of 22, and also pulling on the armband for Arsenal on a couple of occasions. We’ll see what happens when the first international break of the campaign rolls around.