Switzerland is famous for a number of things. Watches, army knives, and chocolate might spring to mind, but the country is fast becoming known as the origin of a wealth of A-Leagues players.
The 2019-20 season features a load of them. Daniel Lopar and Pirmin Schwegler are at the Western Sydney Wanderers, Gregory Wuethrich is across the Nullabor at Perth and Melbourne Victory has Migjen Basha.
They all seem to be settling well in Australia. Lopar especially has the potential to usurp Filip Kurto as the best goalkeeper in the league. Schwegler could also prove pivotal for Markus Babbel’s men this season.
There are as many Swiss-born players in the A-League today as at any time in the competition’s history, so without further ado let’s rank the best and worst.
Gregory Duruz had quite the CV when he was signed by the New Zealand Knights as a 29-year-old for the 2006-07 season. Duruz, a left back, made cameo appearances off the bench against Manchester United, Valencia, Juventus and Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League as well as playing alongside Ljubo Milicevic and Scott Chipperfield at FC Basel.
Admittedly the Swiss youth international wasn’t the worst signing Paul Nevin made that season – there are literally too many to name, the only notable one of which was Michael Turnbull, who went on to become a Bachelorette contestant – but the fact he played only 12 matches and has disappeared off the face of the football earth probably tells you all you need to know.
Two clean sheets to start the season had the Knights in dreamland, but their season inevitably fell apart. He played a role in those consecutive clean sheets, but he also played a role in a coming together in a 1-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners that had him sent off and given a two-match ban for violent conduct.
I met Dominik Ritter at the beach once. Good times, good man. I was lucky to meet him when I did, because he wasn’t in Newcastle for long, making 18 appearances in the 2012-13 season. He was another FC Basel junior and another left back – there are very specific criteria for A-League transfers.
Brought in to replace Byun Sung-Hwan, Ritter linked up well going forward with a young Craig Goodwin but overall never really made much impact and was released at the end of the season. According to transfermarkt.com he was last seen in Switzerland’s fifth division, so playing for the Jets alongside Emile Heskey and former Gold Coast captain Mitchell Cooper is probably the highlight of his career. I can’t confirm this, but I’m sure at the end of the season coach Gary van Egmond uttered this sentence, “Dom? We’ve gotta get Ritter him”.
Basel-born Remo Buess is the first Swiss native to debut in the A-League, making 28 appearances for Brisbane Roar between 2005-07. Apparently he wanted to join the defunct New Zealand Knights for the 2007-08 season, and I can’t find any evidence to suggest he was joking. Unfortunately the club folded and Buess’s professional career came to an end.
Buess seemed to have loved his short stint in Australia as he’s still based in the sunshine state, doing a bit of coaching here and there, and he was for a time involved with the club he played for. However, he hasn’t updated his LinkedIn profile in a while, but once he gets the notification that I viewed his profile and googles me to find out who the hell I am and inevitably reads this, I’m sure he will. Hi, Remo!
Stephan Keller wasn’t your average Swiss A-League player. He was the only player from Switzerland to score a goal and win a championship, and before the current crop of Swiss players he was the only player not to have any affiliation with Basel.
Keller was probably the best A-League player to hail from Switzerland. He forged a career in his homeland and in the Netherlands before joining the Sky Blues and forming a solid defensive partnership with the likes of Simon Colosimo and Hayden Foxe. He was released at the end of the 2010-11 season. He has moved into coaching since and is currently assistant manager at FC Aarau.