One Game Wonders: Blerim Dzemaili

A number of players have played just the one match for Bolton Wanderers. Some well-known names in football and some perhaps not so well-known. We’ll begin the feature with Blerim Dzemaili, a Swiss international who went onto play in the Champions League and at World Cups.

Born to Albanian parents in Yugoslavia in April 1986, Dzemaili moved to Switzerland as a four year old and grew up in Zurich. Joining FC Zurich as a youngster, he went onto play over 100 times in the club’s first team before a move to Bolton Wanderers in July 2007 with the club in the early stages of management under Sammy Lee.

Having bided his time for the first half of the 2007/08 season without a first team appearance for the club, the young midfielder who was already capped by Switzerland, was given the nod to be part of the squad to face Sheffield United in the FA Cup in January 2008 and he came on as a half-time substitute for Nicky Hunt.

A solitary goal from David Carney saw the Blades progress to the next round of the competition with victory at the Reebok Stadium and that was the last time Wanderers fans would get to see Dzemaili play for their team.

Spending the majority of the 2008/09 season on loan at Italian side Torino, the midfielder eventually joined the club in a permanent deal. Remaining in Italy for the foreseeable future, Dzemaili also spent time with Parma before a move to Napoli in July 2011 and it is from here where he really started to make a name for himself in the footballing world.

Dzemaili went onto make 103 appearances (18 goals) for ‘Gli Azzurri’ under the management of Walter Mazzarri and Rafa Benitez before a move to Turkey to sign for Galatasaray in August 2014. Playing just 15 times for the club during a two-year spell, he returned to Italy in August 2016 to sign for Bologna after spending time on loan at Genoa.

Making 92 appearances (13 goals) for the club during a four year period, the Swiss international did spend time in the MLS on loan at Montreal Impact and he did make a significant impact during eight months with the Canadian outfit with 7 goals and 10 assists in 22 games.

In January of this year, he left Bologna and signed for Chinese League One side Shenzhen and at 34 years of age, Dzemaili is still plying his trade in the game playing his football in the Far East. 

The midfielder has had the privilege of playing for Switzerland at the last two World Cups in 2014 and 2018 and scored a goal in each of the two tournaments. In Brazil 2014, he scored in a 5-2 defeat to France and four years later he scored in a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica. 


Dzemaili’s One Game for Wanderers:

5 January 2008

Bolton Wanderers 0

Sheffield United 1 (Carney 42)

Reebok Stadium | FA Cup Third Round


Wanderers: Al Habsi, Hunt (Dzemaili 46), J. O’Brien, Michalik, A. O’Brien (Meite 78), Giannakopoulos, Diouf (Wilhelmsson 64), Guthrie, Cohen, Braaten, Cid.

Unused Subs: Bogdan, Teymourian.

United: Kenny, Kilgallon, Bromby, Armstrong, Geary (Gillespie 75), Hendrie (Sharp 73), Montgomery, Carney, Shelton (Hulse 73), Quinn, Stead.

Unused Subs: Bennett, Lucketti.

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