Despite his reputation as one of the rising stars of Swiss football, Xherdan Shaqiri was very much a surprise inclusion in coach Ottmar Hitzfeld’s squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
The diminutive 18-year-old was born in Gnjilane, Kosovo, but has been playing his football in Switzerland since 1999. In 2001, he switched from Augst to Basel, where he came through the youth ranks before eventually turning pro.
Shaqiri hit the ground running in his first season in the Super League, finding a rich vein of form which quickly caught the attention of Ottmar Hitzfeld, who handed the youngster his first cap in March 2010 in a 3-1 friendly defeat to Uruguay.
Shaqiri did not even make it on to the bench during qualification, but his impressive vision and threat in front of goal could give Switzerland a fresh attacking option in their South African campaign.