A few days ago, former Liverpool defender Stéphane Henchoz went on a rather questionable rant about the Swiss national team and where some of the players’ allegiances lie.
Questioning the idea of making Granit Xhaka one of the leaders of the team, at least officially, following the Arsenal midfielder’s and Xherdan Shaqiri’s celebration against Serbia at the World Cup, the Neuchatel Xamax assistant manager outright stated the former Borussia Mönchengladbach star wasn’t representative of the country and its inhabitants.
Following these claims and many others after the incident, the Switzerland national team surprised everyone by holding a 24-man press conference to address all the issues, which Xhaka then followed up by giving an interview to Aargauer Zeitung.
Asked about it, he said: “Professional allegations don’t bother me, but it gets bad when those people accuse me of not representing Switzerland properly. It hurts! I would be lying if I said anything else.
“I was born and raised in Switzerland. The fact that I have two hearts in my chest is a fact, which, by the way, I cannot help either. But I’ve been wearing the colours of this country, my home, for almost nine years!
“The accusation that I’m not in favour of Switzerland is void. In Gladbach or London, I am the respected Swiss who brings success, and suddenly I’m only half Swiss? Yes, that hurts me, that stresses me out. It’s hard to digest.”
Explaining that international roots are now ‘simply a part of society’, especially in a multicultural country like Switzerland, Xhaka once again apologised for his eagle celebration, stating he ‘did not do anything malicious and did not want to hurt anyone’.
The Arsenal man also explained he would not be celebrating in that fashion again, but refused to forget the ‘many thousands in Albania and Kosovo sat in front of the TV who cheer for the Swiss national team and are honest about each of our successes’.
As for whether he is the right man to eventually succeed to Stéphane Lichtsteiner as the Switzerland national team captain, he said: “The captain’s armband would fill me with pride, but I don’t need this role to take responsibility in the game. I talk, I scream, I take the boys and the old ones with me.”