Former Switzerland coach praises Xhaka: I trusted him when he was young, against France he was a great captain

Former Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has praised Granit Xhaka for the wonderful performance he made in Switzerland’s historic triumph against France in the 2020 European Championship, saying that the Albanian midfielder was a real captain and leader on the field.

Xhaka inspired Switzerland to reach the first quarterfinal in the history of his national team in a big tournament, in the victory against France 5: 4 with a penalty on Monday in Bucharest.

The Arsenal midfielder assisted on the goal of the 3: 3 draw in the last moments of the 1/8 final match, scored by Mario Gavranovic, and gave an inspiring speech to the Swiss team before the penalties.

Hitzfeld – who gave Xhaka the opportunity to make his debut for Switzerland at the age of 18 in a Euro qualifier against England at Wembley in 2011 – told Swiss media that he was most pleased with the Podujeva midfielder’s performance.

Hitzfeld, who led Switzerland from 2008 to 2014, said: “Switzerland did a great job against France. It was very well led by Vladimir Petkovic.

He added: “In particular, I am pleased with Granit Xhaka, Haris Seferovic and Ricardo Rodriguez, who were able to offer special moments. I trusted these three players when they were young. I trusted them, their talent and potential. ”

“Xhaka was the great captain against France, a true leader of the game,” said the 72-year-old.

The Swiss team came back from the abyss after losing by two goals and equalized the score to 3: 3 in the last moments of the 1/8 final meeting in Bucharest, to defeat 5: 4 on penalties the world champion, France .

Switzerland had lost the opportunity to create a 2-0 lead at the start of the second half after Ricardo Rodriguez missed the penalty and Xhaka, who was declared the player of the match, encouraged his teammates to fight to equalize the score and to take the match to the penalty spot.

Yann Sommer saved Kylian Mbappes’ penalty and gave Switzerland a 5: 4 victory on penalties. Switzerland will face Spain in the quarterfinals on Friday.