Papers laud U17 World Cup winners

The Swiss press praised a "historic" success

Swiss newspapers have heaped praise on the Under 17 national football team that defeated Nigeria 1-0 in Sunday's World Cup final, describing it as a "sensation".

This content was published on November 16, 2009 - 09:53

Most recognised that the victory in a packed 64,000 stadium in Abuja will go down in Swiss football history as a major triumph.

The Geneva newspaper Le Temps described the win as a "historic moment" that had never been experienced before.

Although Switzerland were U17 European Champions in 2002, no Swiss side of any age had ever won a World Championship.

It said it was a "baptism by fire" for the Swiss in front of a home crowd that were "frenzily" cheering on their team, the defending champions. It noted that the Swiss were not impressed.

"Not at all. And that was undoubtedly their main trump, the key to their success."

The headline in the respected Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) ran: "World champions out of nothing," commenting that Nigeria were the clear favourites.

"Determination and confidence"

"But the Swiss countered with determination and the confidence of their six previous [tournament] matches in which they beat football greats Brazil, Germany and Italy, before giving no chance to Colombia in the semi-final."

The Berner Zeitung described the victory as a "fantastic and deserved success", arguing like the NZZ that they hardly gave Nigeria a chance to force them out of their calm and balance.

"The future of Swiss football looks rosy and the excellent encouragement of young players is admired worldwide."

And it heaped praise on coach Dany Ryser, who it said was "perhaps the perfect coach for this U17 team".

For the Zurich tabloid Blick, the victory was also a "milestone" in Swiss football history and it made the point that Nigeria was "in shock".

"Swiss giants"

"The Swiss giants have cropped the wings of the golden young eagles [of Nigeria]," it said.

The Fribourg newspaper La Liberté believed that Ryser had managed to instil in his players the original aim of football – that of a game.

"What is the best compliment we can pay him? It is without a doubt that his boys were so sparkling they did not play... like Swiss".

After the success, a number of newspapers chose to look towards the future.

The Tages-Anzeiger of Zurich and the Bund of Bern said the "sensation" also came with an obligation. It said the Swiss Football Association now had a duty to encourage the players further so that they could play in the Swiss national team under Ottmar Hitzfeld. Money had to be made available to do so.


But both papers were also pragmatic: "It doesn't have to be a world championship title every year."

The Berner Zeitung said the most difficult time for the Swiss football teenagers was yet to come.

"It is strongly to be hoped that advisers and parents, friends and trainers, media and associations, do not forget that the players are [only] 17 years old."

This issue is also taken up by the Tribune de Genève, which also questions the future of what it described as this "exceptional generation".

"The 13 dual nationals [in the side] – will they stay in the bosom of the Swiss Football Association once they have reached adult age or will they prefer to defend the colours of their countries of origin?"

Robert Brookes,

Key facts

Switzerland: Siegrist; Martignoni (68. Gonçalves), Chappuis, Veseli (78. Hajrovic), Rodriguez; Xhaka (90. Nimeley), Buff, Kasami, Kamber; Seferovic, Ben Khalifa.

Nigeria: Paul; Oliha, Chukwudi, Omeru, Aliyu; Egbedi (71. Kayode), Azeez, Ajagun, Envoh; Omeruo, Emmanuel (77. Otubanjo).

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Young Swiss success

2002: U17 European Champions; U21 European semifinalists.

2004: U19 European semifinalists.

2005: U20 qualified for the World Cup.

2009: U17 European semifinalists and World Cup champions.

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More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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