An interview with Blerim Dzemaili talking about working his way out of a crisis and the surprising success of the Swiss national under-21 team.
Michael Krobath: Blerim Dzemaili, did you honestly expect to win against Holland?
Blerim Dzemaili: Of course, I always believed we could.
You mean, you "hoped"?
I did mean believed. Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin, Sampdoria Genoa, etc. — half of the team plays abroad. We are a strong team.
What are the team’s strengths?
There aren’t any selfish players and there is a strong feeling of solidarity. We are quite simply thrilled to be playing together as a team.
How do you explain your success against the current European champions, Holland?
The instructions from our trainer, Pierre-André Schürmann, were to play a tight game. And we did that quite successfully; the famous short passing game of the Dutch failed to get a foothold.
There was a long discussion before Fabrizio Zambrella took the penalty kick. What was going on there?
I had actually been selected to take the shot, but Pirmin Schwegler and then Zambrella came along and wanted to have a go at taking the penalty. In the end I gave in. This will, however, have to be discussed, it cannot happen again.
Were you resigned to losing following the missed penalty?
No, I continued to believe that we could win. Since our memorable last-second victory against FC Basel when winning the Swiss championship with FC Zurich, I have come to realize that anything is possible in football.
Following the game, you were praised for your performance as a strong player in the defensive midfield. It seems that a heavy burden has been lifted from your shoulders since your transfer to FC Torino.
I do honestly feel liberated; the last couple of months have been a big strain. First of all I was injured and then I had the long period as a substitute at Bolton Wanderers, which had a negative affect on my self-confidence. Since the transfer, my outlook has become a lot more positive and in the game against Holland I realized that I had not forgotten how to play football.
How were you greeted in Turin?
Everyone is very friendly, and the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed than at Bolton. Yesterday I trained with the team for the second time and afterwards I went out for a meal with some of the players. In England this would just not happen, everyone just does their own thing.
So what is your first impression of the footballing level?
The game here is very technical and elegant; less individual mistakes are made. On the other hand, you can earn more money in England.
What goals have you set yourself between now and the end of the year?
I would like to be picked to play for my new club on a regular basis, and contribute to the national under-21 team qualifying for the European Championship. Finally, I hope to work my way back into the senior national team, where I belong.
Has Ottmar Hitzfeld already been in touch with you?
No, but I have already had two or three promising conversations with his assistant, Michel Pont.