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Rovers World Cup Connections: Switzerland

12 June 2018

Rovers World Cup Connections: Switzerland

12 June 2018

With football fans around the world eagerly waiting for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to begin - we focus on Switzerland's connections with Rovers.

Switzerland are competing in their tenth World Cup Finals and they were quarter finalists in 1934, 1938 and 1954.

Two Swiss Internationals

Bruno Berner and Alman Abdi are the only men to win full caps for Switzerland and oppose Rovers in competitive football.

The only example in the League was Leicester City’s Bruno Berner. The holder of 16 full caps, defender Berner was born in November 1977 and also played for Grasshoppers and Basel; he was in Leicester’s side for both fixtures against Rovers in the 2008/09 campaign. Abdi, born in Yugoslavia of Albanian descent, was a naturalised Swiss who won six full caps; previously with Zürich, he was in the Watford side which defeated Rovers 3-1 in the League Cup in August 2013. 

Born in Switzerland

Apart from Bruno Berner, four other players born in Switzerland have played against Rovers down the years.

Aleksander Prijović, his Serbian heritage notwithstanding, plied his career in Sweden, Turkey, Norway and Poland and played for both Northampton Town and Yeovil Town against Rovers in 2009; he was born in Switzerland in April 1990 and represented the Swiss at U-20 level.

Frédéric Veseli was born in Renens, Switzerland of Albanian heritage and, having played for Lausanne Sports, appeared for Bury against Rovers in April 2014.

Bern born Gezim Shalaj, formerly of Lugano, was in the Port Vale side which played Rovers in September 2016 and has since played professionally in Rumania, Cyprus and Kosovo. Canadian international goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler, who played for Shrewsbury Town against Rovers in 2016/17, was born in Neuchâtel in April 1989.

Pirates in the Alps

Two former Rovers players are known to have furthered their careers in Switzerland.

London born outside right Jimmy Gardner (1899-1964) played in 32 League games with Rovers in 1925/26, scoring four times; after a long career in the north east of England, he left Billingham in 1936 to join Basel.

Having played in three League matches for Rovers in the 1951/52 season, Geoff Taylor (1923-2007) joined the Swiss side SC Brühl as player/coach in May 1952 and spent 18 months there.

Mick Channon, who played for Rovers in 1982/83, won his 46th and final England cap in a goalless draw with Switzerland in September 1977.

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