Xhaka set for emotive Albania encounter
Switzerland international Granit Xhaka is preparing for the “most emotional game” of his career when he travels to Albania on Friday.
Xhaka, 21, is one of several Switzerland players with Albanian roots, with Bayern’s Xherdan Shaqiri and Napoli’s Valon Behrami among those coming from a similar background.
Borussia Moenchangladbach midfielder Xhaka, a son of Kosovo-Albanian immigrants, opted to play for Switzerland in 2011, after not being offered an international opportunity by Albania. On Friday, he will wear the Switzerland jersey in the country of his ancestors.
“This will most likely be the most emotional game of my career. I am certain, I and the other players with Albanian roots will get a lot whistling,” Xhaka told Bild. “Many Albanians are cross with us, call us traitors. Other are also proud of us.”
Granit Xhaka’s older brother Taulant, 23, currently plays for Basel in the Swiss league and despite representing all of Switzerland’s youth teams could yet opt for Albania.
Unlike Granit, Taulant was born in Pristina in 1991, at a time when the Balkans was heading towards political turmoil.
“That’s not decided yet. My brother has not made a final decision,” Granit Xhaka said.