With Switzerland facing Poland in the first ever Euro 2016 round-of-16 meeting later today, bwfc.co.uk profile the international career of an ex-Wanderer who will be hoping to help the Swiss prolong their involvement in the tournament.
51 CAPS 6 GOALS
European Championships: 1 (EURO 2016)
Best Stage Reached: TBC
Tournament Appearances: 3
Tournament Goals: 0
Having featured sporadically for Switzerland at both the 2006 and 2014 World Cups, Blerim Dzemaili will be keen to make more of an impact as he appears at his first European Championships this summer in France.
Born to an Albanian family in Yugoslavia, his family migrated to Zurich in Switzerland when he was just four years old, with the midfielder later starting his youth career with local side Oerlikon Zurich.
Further youth spells with FC Unterstrass and YF Juventus followed before he joined FC Zurich in 2001, rising through the ranks to the progress to the first team within two years at the age of 17.
A Swiss Cup winner with the club in 2004/05, Dzemaili was appointed Zurich captain when just 19 the following season, and led the club to Swiss Super League title success in both 2006 and 2007.
Catching the eye enough to be handed his international debut against Scotland in March 2006, he was included in Switzerland’s squad for the 2006 World Cup.
However, he would have to wait until after the tournament to win his second cap as the Swiss exited the competition after losing on penalties to Ukraine in the round-of-16.
Signing a pre-contract agreement with Bolton Wanderers in February 2007, the midfielder joined the club the following summer, only for injury to disrupt his time at the Reebok Stadium, as well as put the brakes on his international career.
Having ruptured his cruciate ligament before linking up with the Whites, Dzemaili was limited to just one appearance during his time with the Trotters – coming as a substitute in an FA Cup clash with Sheffield United.
Missing out on a place at Euro 2008 as a result as Switzerland co-hosted the tournament alongside Austria, he spent the 2008/09 season on loan with Italian top-flight side Torino, impressing enough for the move to be made permanent despite their relegation to Serie B.
Joining Parma on an initial loan deal later that summer, the midfielder remained left out of the international picture as he missed out on a place at the 2010 World Cup, despite earning a brief recall as he won his first cap for over 18 months against Finland in November 2008.
After joining Parma permanently, Dzemaili was on the move again as he signed for Napoli in June 2011, having won an international recall after an absence of two years just a few months earlier.
A Coppa Italia winner during his first season at the club, he also featured three times for Switzerland in Euro 2012 qualification as they failed to qualify for the tournament.
A regular for his nation from thereon in, featuring in nine of their ten 2014 World Cup qualifiers as they qualified for the finals in Brazil, the midfielder also his first goal for Switzerland in their 4-1 qualifying victory over Iceland in September 2013.
Lifting the Coppa Italia for a second time in 2014, Dzemaili was included in the Swiss’ World Cup squad as they were drawn in a group alongside Ecuador, France and Honduras.
Unused in their opening victory over Ecuador, the midfielder came off the bench to score against France before making further substitute appearances against Honduras and Argentina as they suffered a round-of-16 stage exit.
Signing for Galatasaray after the finals, he featured sporadically for the Turks during his first season with the club as they secured a Super Lig and Turkish Cup league and cup double.
Retaining his place in the Switzerland squad regardless, he scored once in Euro 2016 qualification against San Marino, featuring in seven of the Swiss’ ten qualifiers as they qualified for the finals tournament in France.
Spending last season on loan back in Italy with Genoa, the midfielder cemented his place in Switzerland’s squad for Euro 2016.
On the scoresheet in their warm-up friendly clash with Belgium, he has been an ever-present behind the striker in the tournament so far, starting in both Switzerland’s opening victory over Albania before winning his 50th cap in their last outing against Albania.
Qualifying for the knockout stages as Group A runners-up after drawing 0-0 with host nation France, the Swiss are already enjoying their best ever showing at the European Championships, and Dzemaili will be keen to prolong their involvement at the Euro 2016 as they prepare to face Poland this afternoon.