Switzerland: Gokhan Inler


Written By Alessandro Sant’Albano in 2013

Captain, Centre Midfield, #8, 29 Years Old


Switzerland eased to victory in arguably the easiest group of European Qualifiers on the road to Brazil, however, there is no reason a team with such a distinguished manager, experienced midfield and a world class midfielder in Gokhan Inler cannot make a splash in Brazil next summer.


Switzerland will boast a team with a plethora of talent and experience for next year’s World Cup. They will have a solid shot stopper in Diego Benaglio a champions league caliber defense with Fabian Schar and Stephen Lichtsteiner,  and a world class midfield ranging from the butchers of Valon Behrami and Blerim Dzemaili, to the creativity of  Shaqiri and Stocker and the composure of Xhaka and most importantly Inler. There one flaw, is a lack of a true goalscorer, but with the creativity and long range shot of Inler hopefully that can be taken care of early on in the group stage. In the qualifiers, Switzerland’s forwards managed only 3 goals in ten games, not so convincing. But, Inler’s most important attribute is that he is an accomplished winner, who is disciplined and has the constant desire to fight. This will play a key role in the Swiss camp, providing guidance for the younger lads and bringing leadership in the locker room. With the likes of Shaqiri and Stocker, Switzerland have two creative gems, that are still diamonds in the rough, they lack maturity and that killer instinct, but hopefully they will have the right atmosphere surrounding them through the strengths of Gokhan Inler and Stephen Lichtsteiner.


The Swiss midfielder, Gokhan Inler has been the driving force behind the re-emergence of the Southern giants since his arrival in 2011, His determination, spacing and football I.Q have allowed the Partenopei to dismantle the traditional “Big Three” at the top of  Serie A. [1]



(photo: June 2010, Claudio Villa/ Getty Images Europe)


His signing in the summer of 2011 marked a shift in Italian football. His driving commitment, persistence at closing down balls, range of passing peripheral vision and ability to unleash a cracker at the edge of the box have transformed the Azzurri from a mid-table Serie A side to genuine title contenders. Despite the big name stars Napoli have created/bought in Marek Hamsik, Gonzalo Higuain and Lorenzo Insigne, Gokhan Inler represents the epitome of a Napoli player with  “Grinta” (fight in Italian) passion, and magic on the field when it is most needed.  While Napoli has become known for its unparalleled attack, how do you think it is built up? Who makes that key pass, that key interception at the edge of your own box, which hits that last minute shot, Gokhan Inler. He has become the on pitch general of this Partenopei team, that is why at the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers in 2012, Ottmar Hitzfeld announced him as Captain of Switzerland.


While Switzerland will have a team stronger than ever, will the people of Switzerland back a determined Squad? Switzerland is known for being a rather racist country, having a strict immigration policy, often tormenting other ethnicities. For example, the far right populist Swiss People’s Party gained the largest share of the vote in the 2007 elections, of which some of their promotional campaigns included posters scattered across the country of a white sheep kicking out a black sheep, have barely concealed their racism[2].



[3] Daily Mail, 2007


As the SPP continue to pressure for harsher immigration laws, Swiss football is pointed in the opposite way, replicating the progressively ethnical and cultural diverse nature of today’s Switzerland. Just look back at the historic victory Switzerland managed in the 2010 World Cup against Spain. A ball chipped over the top by Blaise N’Kufo (born in Kinshasa, Congo) and snatched by Eren Derdiyok (born in Basle to Turkish parents), whose speed beat out Casillas and slipped by him to Gelson Fernandes (born in Praia, Cape Verde), who fired the ball into the net. Talk about a new-look Switzerland!!!


The very nature of Switzerland, with its French, German and Italian elements, has made for a cosmopolitan national team, with three languages spoken in the dressing room.


Unfortunately if the Swiss national were to get their way, Switzerland would not have much of a team. All their top players are immigrants, all there talents are immigrants and the majority of there fans are immigrants, after all 20% of the country are immigrants. Derdiyok and Gokhan Inler, both born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, are stars of the side, Derdiyok a towering, physical, quick 22-year-old striker who plays for Bayer Leverkusen. “The decision to play for the Swiss national team was very important for me,” Inler said. “I chose to play for Switzerland out of gratitude. I have received a lot from this country and I wish to be able to give something back.”


Switzerland has also been the destination for many Eastern European refugees fleeing war torn states. The most notable of the Swiss stars from Kosovo and Behrami and Shaqiri.

Valon Behrami, the Napoli midfielder was born in Kosovo, to Albanian parents, and moved to Switzerland at the age of five.

But most exciting, quick, trickster in the squad is another Kosovo-born player, the 18-year-old Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri.


Shaqiri, while proud of his Kosovar roots, feels truly Swiss and is keen to improve the image of his native Kosovo amongst Swiss people. Kosovars are depicted as the lowest members of society, the drug dealers, the cleaners, the thiefs, retty much anyone that is seen as degraded in Switzerland.


“They come from another culture, have had a different education and not all of them can adapt,” he said. “That applies just to a few but then we all have a negative image. I think: anyone who is a criminal, does not belong in Switzerland and should go back to their home country.”[4]


Xherdan Shaqiri:


The Swiss football federation just accomplished its largest feat amongst its history, the under-17 national team won the World Cup in Nigeria. If the seniors are considered diverse take a look at the team that recently won Gold medals.


Of the 20-man squad, 12 have dual nationality. The exceptional playmaker, Nassim Ben Khalifa of Wolfsburg, has Tunisian parents, while Haris Seferovic, the Fiorentina striker who scored the winner in the final against Nigeria, is the child of Bosnians who emigrated in the late-Eighties.


The remainder of the world has emigrated from across the world: André Gonçalves (Portugal), Ricardo Rodríguez (Chile, played every match in the current World Cup qualifiers), Kofi Nimeley (Ghana), Joel Kiassumbua (Congo), Igor Mijatovic (Serbia), Frederic Veseli (Kosovo), Maik Nakic (Croatia), Sead Hajrovic (Bosnia), Pajtim Kasami (Macedonia, and now playing for the senior team) and Granit Xhaka (Albania, now starting for the senior team).


This generation could be one of the domineering squads in Europe for years to come, and while they are making a massive difference on the field, the impact they are making off the field is unparalleled.[5]


Watch some of Inler’s long range efforts


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Learn about Switzerland’s National Anthem


How to cite this article: “Switzerland: Ghokan Inler” Written by Alessandro Sant’Albano (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).


Works Cited:

[1] Inler is Napoli’s Heart, December 2012, http://www.football-italia.net/28204/inler-napolis-heart

2 thoughts on “Switzerland: Gokhan Inler

  1. Pingback: World Cup Preview: Predicting Who Contracts What in Rio | Life's Awhile

  2. Laurent Dubois

    Great page, but for the two pictures you’ve integrated, given the source, best to follow our guide’s suggestion and to provide a thumbnail (probably a bit smaller than here) and then just link to the original image where you found it.


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