Thursday 31 August 2017, 07:51

Dzemaili: This is the best team in Switzerland’s history

  • Blerim Dzemaili in the form of his life with Montreal Impact & Switzerland

  • The midfielder is keen to break new ground with his national team

  • “We have a responsibility to take La Nati to the next level"

Despite changing teams and countries numerous times over the years, Blerim Dzemaili has always managed to handle the adaptation process with aplomb. Similarly, the Swiss international has improved his performances on the pitch year after year, establishing himself as one of the first names on the Nati** teamsheet and attracting the interest of several high-profile clubs.

Now in his early 30s, the former FC Zurich, Torino, Parma, Napoli, Galatasaray and Genoa midfielder has recently been trying his luck in Canada, where he has hit the ground running.

After enjoying a strong 2016/17 campaign with Bologna, Dzemaili chose to sign for Montreal Impact, a surprising decision that has proved to be something of a masterstroke, as he has gone on to stamp his authority on the Quebec side’s midfield and find the net once every two games in his four months at the club. “I’m continuing in the same vein and I’m determined to keep playing well,” he told

“I was tempted by the idea of helping the Impact to make progress,” he continued with a smile. “The club is at a crossroads, just like MLS. It’s going to change a lot over the next few years. All the conditions are right for us to move forwards – I feel like I’ve arrived at a time when that is definitely possible.”

Did you know? *-Dzemaili began his career at FC Zurich at the same time as Gokhan Inler -He has often had to play second fiddle to his former team-mate at international level -The Swiss player missed out on the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ through injury -Dzemaili speaks five languages -His current spell in Montreal has enabled him to experience a fifth national league and the ninth club of his professional career*

He continued: “I don’t understand players who complain about their job and the lack of time they get with their families. I’ll have a good 45 years to spend with my nearest and dearest. In the meantime, I want to make the most of my career and continue to enjoy it to the maximum. I often forget that I play football for a living!”

On-song Swiss The on-form attacking midfielder became more animated when the subject of the FIFA World Cup was broached. At Brazil 2014, he came desperately close to writing a new chapter in Switzerland’s footballing history when he headed against the post in the final seconds of his country’s Round-of-16 clash against Argentina. “I got over it a few weeks later, but it was very hard to take at the time,” he said. “It’s further proof that football comes down to minor details, and it’s up to us to manage those details.”

Four years earlier, the Macedonian-born star was forced to watch from the sidelines due to an injury. In 2006, he was part of the Swiss squad that made the short journey to Germany, but he was not granted any playing opportunities. Now, with less than a year to go until Russia 2018, he and his team-mates are extremely well placed to make an impact on football’s greatest stage.

Vladimir Petkovic’s charges have impressed throughout the qualifying campaign for Russia 2018, after getting off to the perfect start by defeating European champions Portugal 2-0 in Group B. They subsequently won their next five matches and are now in touching distance of qualification. “I’ve got enough experience to realise that things can change very quickly, though,” warned Dzemaili. “We can’t allow ourselves to get complacent; we need to do better and open the scoring more quickly in matches.”

Quietly efficient, modest and consistent, the confident 31-year-old is a mirror image of his national team, which currently occupies the lofty position of fourth in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. “We’re already a very strong unit, but we could do better individually, when you look at the quality of our squad. This is the best team in the country’s history. We have a responsibility, therefore, to try to take it to the next level.” Fortunately for Dzemaili and his compatriots, a chance to do just that is right around the corner.

Switzerland’s remaining four fixtures *31 August: Switzerland-Andorra 3 September: Latvia-Switzerland 7 October: Switzerland-Hungary 10 October: Portugal-Switzerland*