Granit Xhaka (foto: Getty Images)
Swiss national football team captain Granit Xhaka is set to play one of the most emotionally charged matches of his career as Switzerland faces Kosovo in a crucial Euro qualifying match this Saturday in Pristina.
Born in Basel to Kosovar parents, Xhaka has always had a special connection to the region. "Xhaka was welcomed in Kosovo as if he were one of their own. The pride in his achievements is palpable here," said Swiss media outlet Blick, capturing the mood in Pristina ahead of the Swiss captain's arrival.
Accompanied by his father Ragip at a pre-match press conference, Xhaka admitted that the upcoming game holds unique emotional significance for him. "I've played in many special matches, but this one is different. My family is here, and I visit Kosovo every summer," said Xhaka. "I can move freely here, and there's a sense of peace and respect that I cherish."
The match will take place at Fadil Vokrri Stadium, a venue that holds sentimental value for Xhaka. Swiss photographers recently recreated a childhood photo of Xhaka in front of the stadium, highlighting the deep-rooted connection he has with the place.
While Xhaka acknowledged friendships with some of the Kosovo players, he made it clear that his focus is on securing a win for Switzerland. "When the match starts, all friendships are set aside. I want the win and the three points," he emphasized.
Swiss coach Murat Yakin echoed Xhaka's sentiments, stating, "My players are professionals; they know how to handle such situations and want the best for Switzerland. That's what I expect from them.
The match in Pristina will mark Xhaka's 116th appearance for the Swiss national team, adding yet another milestone to his already illustrious career.
For Xhaka and many others, this isn't just another football match; it's a homecoming of sorts, a blend of sports and emotions that transcends the boundaries of the pitch.