Granit Xhaka (Albanian pronunciation: [ɡɾaˈnit ˈdʒaka]; born 27 September 1992) is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as a midfielder and is the captain of both Premier League club Arsenal and the Swiss national team.
|Full name||Granit Xhaka|
|Date of birth||27 September 1992|
|Place of birth||Basel, Switzerland|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 19:59, 11 August 2019 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 18:48, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
Xhaka began his career at hometown club Basel, winning the Swiss Super League in each of his first two seasons. He then moved to Bundesliga team Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012, developing a reputation as a technically gifted player and natural leader alongside criticism for his temperament. He was made captain of Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2015 at the age of 22, leading the team to UEFA Champions' League qualification for a second successive season. He completed a high-profile transfer to Arsenal in May 2016 for a fee in the region of £30 million.
Xhaka was part of the Swiss team that won the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He made his senior debut in 2011 and has won over 70 caps, representing the nation at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and 2018, and at UEFA Euro 2016.
Xhaka was born in Basel, Switzerland to Albanian parents, Eli and Ragip Xhaka, originally from Kuršumlija, Serbia. His father Ragip was a political prisoner. As a student at University of Pristina, Ragip participated in a 1986 student demonstration in Yugoslavia against the central government in Belgrade and, as a result, he was arrested and given a six-year sentence (he spent three and a half years in prison). Their family moved from Podujevo, District of Pristina to Switzerland in 1990.
The brothers started their youth football by Concordia Basel and both moved to Basel in 2002. Xhaka played for various Basel youth teams and since 2008 has been a member of the U-21 squad. Between 2008 and 2010, he played 37 games for the U-21 team, scoring eleven goals.
Former Basel coach Thorsten Fink once said. "Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland...after Granit Xhaka." Whilst the Swiss National Football Coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, has dubbed him the 'young Schweinsteiger.'
Since the beginning of the 2010–11 season, Xhaka played for the Basel first team. He made his first team debut in the third qualifying round of the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League in the away match against Debrecen in the Szusza Ferenc Stadium. Towards the end of the match, he scored the second goal in Basel's 2–0 victory. He scored his first Super League goal in the 5–1 home win against FC Thun on 15 May 2011. At the end of the 2010–11 season, Xhaka won the Super League Championship title with Basel and at the end of the 2011–12 season he won the Double, the League Championship title and the Swiss Cup with the club.
On 18 May 2012, Basel announced on their homepage that Xhaka had agreed terms with Lucien Favre's Borussia Mönchengladbach. After medical checks were completed, Xhaka signed a five-year deal with the club. The transfer fee was not disclosed by Mönchengladbach, but is estimated to be in the region of €8.5 million.
Xhaka made his debut in a DFB-Pokal first round match against Alemannia Aachen on 18 August 2012. Three days later, he made his first appearance in European competition for Borussia in 1–3 home lost to Dynamo Kyiv in qualification for the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League. On 25 August, he made his Bundesliga debut in the team's opening match of the season, a 2–1 home win against 1899 Hoffenheim. He scored his first and only goal of the season in a 3–2 loss at 1. FC Nürnberg.
In 2014–15, Xhaka started all 34 2014–15 Bundesliga matches for Borussia and was named in the league's team of the season. Borussia finished in third place to qualify for the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League.
On 23 September 2015, Xhaka captained Borussia and scored his first goal of the season, heading in from Raffael's free kick in a 4–2 win over FC Augsburg. In the next match, against VfB Stuttgart, Xhaka again captained the side and scored a goal in a 3–1 win. On 30 September, he made his first appearance for Borussia in the Champions League proper in a 1–2 group stage loss at home to Manchester City. Xhaka received his fifth red card for the team in his 95th game on 20 December, for striking his opponent in the first half; he voluntarily gave €20,000 to charity as an apology.
On 25 May 2016, Arsenal signed Xhaka from Borussia Mönchengladbach for a fee of around £30–35 million. Xhaka made his first appearance for Arsenal (as a half-time substitution) in a 2–1 win against the MLS All-Stars.
Xhaka made his competitive debut for Arsenal in the club's opening match of the 2016–17 Premier League season, a 4–3 defeat to Liverpool, replacing midfielder Mohamed Elneny in the 65th minute while also picking up a yellow card in the process. His first goal for the club came on 17 September 2016, a 25-yard thunderbolt in a 4–1 Premier League victory against Hull City. Four days later, he would score again from distance, this time from 30 yards in a 4–0 EFL Cup defeat of Nottingham Forest. Xhaka's first Arsenal red card – and eighth for club and country since April 2014 – came in a 3–2 win over Swansea City on 15 October 2016. On 22 January 2017, Xhaka was sent off for the second time in the season, by referee Jon Moss, in Arsenal's 2–1 home win against Burnley. After his first goal for the club in September, he would not score in the Premier League again until doing so in May, scoring the first goal of a 2–0 victory over Manchester United, ending United's run of 25 consecutive games unbeaten.
Xhaka went on to feature throughout Arsenal's triumphant FA Cup campaign. As so he started in the Cup final against Chelsea which the Gunners won 2–1. Xhaka also played in the 2017 Community Shield that Arsenal won on penalties over Chelsea. His first goal of the 2017–18 season came in a 3–3 draw with Liverpool, Xhaka scored a 25-yard thunderbolt to take Arsenal from 2–1 to 2–2.
On 15 September 2018, Xhaka scored the first goal, from a direct free kick, in a 2–1 victory against Newcastle United. On 28 October 2018, he scored again from a free kick against Crystal Palace.
Switzerland youth squadsEdit
He played his first game for the Switzerland national under-19 football team on 25 May 2010, as a substitute, as the team beat Austria national under-19 football team 3–2 in the Schwaz, Austria. He scored his first goal for the U-19 on 7 September 2010 as the team won 3–0 against the Czech Republic.
Xhaka played his first game for the under-21 side on 3 September 2010, as a substitute, as the team beat the Republic of Ireland 1–0 at the Cornaredo Stadium in Lugano. This was the last game in the qualification Group 2 to the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. Xhaka was member of the Swiss U-21 squad that competed in the final tournament, hosted by Denmark, between 11 and 25 June 2011. The Swiss team reached the final without conceding a goal, but lost to Spain 2–0.
Switzerland senior teamEdit
Before making his international debut for Switzerland, Xhaka was still undecided whether to play for his birth country or Albania, and he complained to the Albanian sports media that FSHF was ignoring him while the Swiss Football Association was showing much more interest.
Xhaka debuted for Switzerland at Wembley Stadium against England in a 2–2 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification draw on 4 June 2011. On 15 November 2011, during his sixth international appearance, he scored his first international goal in the 1–0 away win against Luxembourg at the Stade Josy Barthel.
Switzerland also tried to select Xhaka to participate in the 2012 Olympic Football tournament, but he opted to stay at his new club for pre-season training. He participated in all ten of Switzerland's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign matches, scoring both goals in a 2–0 defeat of Slovenia. On 2 June 2014, Xhaka was named in Switzerland's 2014 World Cup squad by national coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. In the team's second match, Xhaka scored in a 5–2 loss to France.
Xhaka was selected for Euro 2016, where Switzerland's campaign opened against Albania in Lens. Xhaka, whose team won 1–0, was playing against his brother Taulant while their mother watched from the crowd in a T-shirt blending the two nations' flags. He was voted the man of the match. Xhaka played every minute of Switzerland's campaign, which ended in the round of 16 with a loss to Poland at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard; after a 1–1 draw he was the only player to not score in the penalty shootout, shooting wide.
Ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, there was speculation that Xhaka could switch his allegiance to represent Kosovo, which had been accepted as a full member of FIFA and were allowed to play competitive matches for the first time. Xhaka, however, published an open letter stating that his participation in Euro 2016 had disqualified him from changing his allegiance, and he was thus tied to Switzerland.
Xhaka was named in manager Vladimir Petković's 23-man Swiss squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. On 22 June, he equalised with a long-range strike as the Swiss came from behind to defeat Serbia 2–1 in their second game. He and fellow goalscorer Xherdan Shaqiri, who is also of Kosovar descent, celebrated their goals by making an eagle gesture resembling the double headed eagle of the Albanian flag. FIFA fined each player 10,000 Swiss francs "for unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play".
In July 2017, Xhaka married his long-term partner, Leonita Lekaj.
- As of match played 11 August 2019
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
- As of match played 9 June 2019
- Scores and results list Switzerland's goal tally first.
|1.||15 November 2011||Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg||Luxembourg||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|2.||15 August 2012||Stadion Poljud, Split, Croatia||Croatia||1–0||4–2|
|3.||7 September 2012||Stožice Stadium, Ljubljana, Slovenia||Slovenia||1–0||2–0||2014 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|4.||15 October 2013||Stade de Suisse, Bern, Switzerland||Slovenia||1–0||1–0|
|5.||20 June 2014||Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil||France||2–5||2–5||2014 FIFA World Cup|
|6.||27 March 2015||Swissporarena, Lucerne, Switzerland||Estonia||2–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 2016 qualification|
|7.||9 June 2017||Tórsvøllur, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands||Faroe Islands||1–0||2–0||2018 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|8.||7 October 2017||St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland||Hungary||1–0||5–2|
|9.||27 March 2018||Swissporarena, Lucerne, Switzerland||Panama||2–0||6–0||Friendly|
|10.||22 June 2018||Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, Russia||Serbia||1–1||2–1||2018 FIFA World Cup|
|11.||26 March 2019||St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland||Denmark||2–0||3–3||UEFA Euro 2020 qualification|
- FA Cup: 2016–17
- FA Community Shield: 2017
- EFL Cup runner-up: 2017–18
- UEFA Europa League runner-up: 2018–19
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- "Granit Xhaka: Profile of Arsenal's first summer signing". Sky Sports. 26 May 2016.
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- "Wir sind Borussia. Herzlich willkommen. – Borussia Mönchengladbach". Borussia.de. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- "Granit Dhaka: Zuhause bin ich sowohl in der Schweiz wie in Kosova". Archived from the original on 15 May 2014.
Ich bin der Schweiz dankbar für alles. Ich kam in diesem Land auf die Welt"..."Natürlich fühle ich mich zuhause am wohlsten, und das ist in der Schweiz, da ich da geboren und aufgewachsen bin"..."Im Internet in der Wikipedia steht, dass ich in Gjilan geboren sei, doch das ist ein Fehler, von dem ich nicht weiss, wie er entstand.
- "Shaqiri und Xhaka – heiß auf die WM".
Den Ruf des frühreifen Fußballers brachte der gebürtige Basler vor knapp eineinhalb Jahren aus der Alpenrepublik mit ins niederrheinische Flachland.
- "Granit Xhaka: "Es ist ein guter Moment für diesen tollen Schritt"". Archived from the original on 15 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
Ich bin in Basel geboren und aufgewachsen
- "Nga Nishi deri tek Molla e Kuqe".
Granit Xhaka und Taulant Xhaka kommen ursprünglich vom Dorf Dzake in Serbie. Dzake befindet sich in der Nähe von Kuršumlija in Serbien. Das wir in dieser Doku ausführlich erwähnt."
- Hytner, David (17 November 2017). "Granit Xhaka: 'My dad's first few months in jail were OK, then the beatings started'". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
- Hytner, David (26 May 2017). "Arsenal's Granit Xhaka fired by his father's struggle for freedom". Retrieved 5 June 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Taulant Xhaka". Archived from the original on 1 July 2014.
- "Xhaka: Zgjodha pa hezitim Zvicrën, shqiptarët më thonë tradhtar!". Archived from the original on 14 May 2014.
Granit, familja juaj vjen nga Kosova, po ju ku keni lindur? Në Zvicër, në Bazel kam lindur. Ashtu si Taulanti, vëllai im. Disa burime informacioni, duke përfshirë këtu edhe "Ëikipedia", kanë njoftuar se kam lindur në Kosovë, por kjo nuk është e vërtetë
- "Albanien hat schon telefoniert".
Bei Granits Mutter beisst der albanische Fussballverband denn auch auf Granit: «Unsere Kinder sind hier geboren worden und zur Schule gegangen. Sie gehören in die Schweiz.»
- Granit Xhaka at National-Football-Teams.com
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- "Granit Xhaka wechselt im Sommer vom FCB zu Borussia Mönchengladbach" (in German). FC Basel 1893. 18 May 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
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- "Arsenal 3–2 Swansea City". BBC. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
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- Begu, Yll (13 April 2011). "Në fokus / Granit Xhaka: Dua të luaj për Shqipërinë, por mungon interesimi i FSHF-së!".
"Mesfushori i Bazelit, Granit Xhaka, së bashku me vëllanë e tij, Taulantin, kanë dëshirë për t'u bërë pjesë e kombëtares shqiptare, mirëpo deri më tash nuk kanë parë kurrfarë interesimi nga Federata Shqiptare e Futbollit që t'i afrojë ata në kombëtaren kuqezi.", further in the article Xhaka says: "“Në javët e fundit është bërë një presion i madh drejt nesh nga mediet lokale për të zgjedhur kombëtaren e Zvicrës dhe e kam të vështirë ta kuptoj përse askush nga FSHF-ja nuk ka reaguar për të shprehur interesim që ne të vishemi kuqezi”, ka theksuar Granit Xhaka.
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- Gill, Kieran (11 June 2016). "Granit and Taulant Xhaka go head to head at Euro 2016... as their mother wears a half-and-half Switzerland-Albania shirt and older brother throws a tantrum on the touchline". Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
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- Brassell, Andy (25 June 2016). "Poland hold nerve after Switzerland's Granit Xhaka blazes penalty wide". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
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As he turned and screamed, he took his shirt off, flexed his muscles and performed a double-eagle celebration, a recreation of the Albanian flag. Alongside him, Granit Xhaka did the same – for the second time.
- "Swiss duo's 'provocative' black eagle goal celebration 'mixes sport and politics'". CNN. 24 June 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
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- "World Cup 2018: Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka's controversial goal celebrations criticised by Swiss media". The Guardian. 23 June 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
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- "Arsenal star Granit Xhaka marries long-term partner Leonita Lekaj as team-mates return for pre-season training". Daily Mirror. 7 July 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
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