Gelson Fernandes arrived in Switzerland with his mother at the age of five from the Cape Verde islands. The family settled in Sitten, where the future international’s father had found work some time earlier.
Between 2004 and 2007, the midfielder appeared for FC Sion in the second-tier Challenge League and the top flight Super League. However, he failed to collect honours with the club, and it came as little surprise when the talented youngster seized an opportunity to move to England.
Manchester City paid 9.1m Swiss francs for the 1.83m player, the second-highest transfer fee ever paid by an overseas club for a Swiss player at the time. After a few teething troubles in his new environs, Fernandes battled his way to a regular place in the City first team.
However, he left Eastlands and England last summer, joining French Ligue 1 outfit Saint-Etienne. He has been all-but ever-present for Les Verts throughout the 2009-10 campaign.
A similar situation applies to the Switzerland line-up. The former Swiss U-21 skipper earned his first full cap in August 2007. He was a regular starter at UEFA EURO 2008 under then boss Jakob Koebi Kuhn. New supremo Ottmar Hitzfeld has kept faith with the 23-year-old, fielding him in six of Switzerland’s ten qualifiers en route to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.