Oliver Dzuba

The Swiss national football team, or the “Nati” as they are colloquially referred to, are a rather appropriate representation of the country they so passionately play for. Like Switzerland, the team embodies the spirit of multiculturalism, made up as it is of players from different cultures and some stars that were born outside the western European nation. This mixture between domestic and foreign players has allowed for a wealth of young talent and a highly competitive national squad.

Eren Derdiyok is a young striker who fits the profile of a multicultural Swiss perfectly. Born in the city of Basel in 1988, Derdiyok is of Kurdish descent and at the age of just 22 has already made an impact at both national and club level. Derdiyok made his start in professional football in his home city playing for Basler Sportclub Old Boys, a side in the third tier of Swiss football known as 1. Liga. Playing at the young age of 17, the forward was able to net 12 goals in only 18 appearances; his future was bright and it was certain he was destined for bigger and better teams.

Derdiyok’s impressive performances soon gained the attention of city rivals, and much larger club, FC Basel. The 13 times winners of the Swiss league and a side who have enjoyed repeated appearances in the Champions League and UEFA Cup, have established themselves as one of the more dominant sides in Switzerland. What was perhaps more important for Derdiyok however was that Basel, in the past and also the present, are known for producing and encouraging young talent. They may well see those players shipped off to more wealthy outfits, but they are a vital stopping off point for many young Swiss.

Derdiyok was able to develop his skills at St. Jakob Park and progress his career in its lush surroundings. While at the Super League giants, Derdiyok was also able to get that winning feeling, tasting success and picking up silverware. In his second season at his new club, Derdiyok helped Basel to the double, winning both the Swiss Cup and Swiss Super League, a season in which he contributed a not too shabby 10 goals. To top off all of this success, the fledgling was also awarded the Swiss Youngster of the Year prize.

Not surprisingly, Derdiyok continued to be in-form for Basel when participating in the 2008/09 Champions League. It was his goal against Portuguese side Vitória SC in the third qualifying round that helped the Swiss giants safely through to the group stage. Although they finished the tournament poorly, it was Deridiyok’s goal in the 82nd minute that ensured a draw against Barcelona, in the process giving Basel their only point in that season’s Champions League.

A harsh fact of life in Swiss football is that a good player is often scooped up by clubs from the German Bundesliga or French Ligue 1. Derdiyok is no exception to this rule, as seen with his transfer to Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. Picked up in 2009, Derdiyok joined his fellow countryman Tranquillo Barnetta to make an impressive start in Germany’s top flight. The former Basel youngster has appeared in 33 games for the German side and has netted 11 goals. Derdiyok’s contract runs until 2013 and he is sure to do as well if not better for his new team in the coming years.

At the young of age of 22 Eren Derdiyok has come a long way in a short time. His club performances have been promising, and his games for his country have also been impressive. If Derdiyok can continue to produce the goods and also to improve, he will be a valuable asset for Bayer Leverkusen, or any future club he may join, and also for his home nation of Switzerland.