Last throw of the dice for Chapuisat
For one Swiss player, there will be a veritable sense of déjà vu when he takes the field against Croatia on June 13.
Striker Stéphane Chapuisat is taking part in his third major championship finals after appearing in the World Cup in 1994 and Euro 96.
Chapuisat, who has more than 100 international caps, led the line during the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, scoring the second goal in the team’s memorable 4-1 victory over Romania.
Currently enjoying an Indian summer with Young Boys (Bern), Chapuisat spent eight fruitful years with the German club, Borussia Dortmund.
He won two German championship titles (1995 and 1996), the Champions League and the World Club Championship (both 1997) with Dortmund.
On his return to Switzerland, he won the title with Grasshoppers Zurich in 2001.
Chapuisat, who now plays for Young Boys, was this season's top scorer with 23 goals. He was named "Footballer of the Year" at a recent awards ceremony.
A classic goal poacher, he hopes his years of experience will serve both him and the team well in Portugal.
swissinfo: What are your thoughts ahead of Euro 2004?
Stéphane Chapuisat: I don’t know of any player who is not looking forward to it. But having played in the United States in 1994 and in England in 1996, I see things from a slightly different perspective.
The passion and desire are still there; I simply feel calmer, more at ease and I can perhaps savour it more than when I was 25. It’s truly fantastic to feel a whole country behind the team.
swissinfo: What memories do you have of those tournaments?
S.C.: I remember them well. It had been almost 30 years since Switzerland had qualified for a major championship finals. Under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, we really achieved something special.
First of all we qualified [for the World Cup finals] in a difficult group containing Portugal, Italy and Scotland. In the US, we played the opening match of the tournament against the hosts. And then there was that fantastic game against Romania in Detroit which enabled us to reach the last 16.
Two years later in England, our campaign was short lived, but we still managed a draw in the opening match against England at Wembley.
swissinfo: Few of your teammates have experience of playing in the finals of a major international tournament. Will that count against you?
S.C.: We have a good squad; without that, it’s impossible to qualify for a major tournament. But it’s also the result of a lot of work. It goes without saying that the fact that so many Swiss players ply their trade abroad is a big plus for the manager. They are used to handling pressure and know how to perform to the best of their ability on the big stage. It will not be a new situation for them.
swissinfo: A word about the manager, Köbi Kuhn.
S.C.: His great achievement is to have built a team capable of pulling off big results. We are lucky to have a manager who was a top player himself. He played in the World Cup finals in 1966, and he knows what is required of the players for them to perform at their best.
swissinfo: How do you rate Switzerland’s chances in Portugal?
S.C.: It’s always difficult to make predictions. One thing is for sure: the first match against Croatia is crucial. If we win, anything’s possible. We know the English style of play pretty well; France are the group favourites, but who knows…
swissinfo: Euro 2004 will be pretty much your last major championship - or do you think you can still make a mark in the Champions League with Young Boys?
S.C.: After eight seasons with Dortmund (winning two championships and the Champions League), the World Cup finals in 1994 and Euro 96, I never thought I would get the chance to play at the highest level again.
What has happened with the national team and Young Boys is a bonus. As for qualifying for the Champions League with Young Boys, we must ensure we win our opening game to be sure of at least playing in the Uefa Cup. One final European campaign would please me no end.
swissinfo-interview: Mathias Froidevaux
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