Valon Behrami was born in Kosovo, fleeing with his parents to Switzerland as a refugee when he was just five. He was not especially fond of football as a boy, preferring athletics in general and cross-country running in particular. Behrami duly collected four regional championship medals in the discipline at that time.
He finally took up football at the age of 13, initially playing for smaller clubs around his home town of Stabio, before FC Lugano’s attention was drawn to the lithe and mobile youth. The youngster gained valuable experience of the game at a higher level, before his progress was interrupted when the club went into administration in 2002.
Behrami switched to Italy, turning in a stirring 2003-4 campaign in Genoa colours and attracting interest from clubs up and down the country. After a single season with Genoa, he moved to Hellas Verona and was named best player in Serie B after the 2004-5 season. Behrami was on the books with Lazio for three years, before switching country again in July 2008 and joining English Premier League outfit West Ham United, where he remains today.
The 25-year-old, 1.86m-tall Behrami made his Switzerland debut in October 2005 in a 2006 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against France, a game which ended 1-1. He netted his first international goal a month later, scoring against Turkey just three minutes after coming on as a sub.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa will be Behrami’s third major tournament. He featured in the Swiss squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2008.