English-born Sutter happy to opt for Switzerland

Born and raised in England, Scott Sutter is sure he made the

right choice by opting to play international football for his

father’s native Switzerland.

Sutter has been promised an international debut by coach Ottmar

Hitzfeld in a friendly against Australia on Friday. Four days

later, Switzerland opens its European Championship qualifying

program against England.

Just four years ago, that would have posed a problem. Then a

Swiss under-21 player, Sutter revealed he was still an England fan

and hoped to switch allegiance from the adopted home where he

arrived at age 16 to begin his professional career.

Today, his loyalty runs deeper.

”I see Switzerland as my home now,” Sutter told The Associated

Press after his first national team training session on Tuesday

evening. ”When I made the decision before about England, and not

playing for Switzerland again, obviously I was a younger player.

I’d only been in Switzerland for four years.

”Now I’ve been here for eight-and-a-half years and things look

a lot different,” the 24-year-old Sutter said.

His father, Werner, and mother Irena – who is English with

Polish roots – will travel from their home in north London to see

their son play at St. Gallen on Friday. They plan to be at Basel’s

St. Jakob Park next Tuesday where he will likely begin on the

bench.

Sutter said his father is very proud, because ”he’s Swiss as

well.”

Elevation to international status continues Sutter’s stunning

season, which took off when his club Young Boys scored a shock 1-0

victory in Istanbul to eliminate Fenerbahce from Champions League

qualifying.

Young Boys was then paired with Tottenham, and upset Sutter’s

boyhood favorite team 3-2 in Bern – having led 3-0 after 28 minutes

– before losing the return match 4-0.

”The last three weeks has been amazing,” he said. ”When you

play against teams like Fenerbahce and Tottenham you can measure

yourself. It’s interesting for myself as a player to know where I

stand among players like that, and I don’t think the difference was

too big.”

Sutter was told of his call-up by a club official and spoke with

Hitzfeld for the first time Tuesday.

The veteran German – who led Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich

to become European champions in a five-year spell – invited his new

recruit to a welcoming chat at the team hotel in Feusisberg.

”He just wanted to find out about me as a person,” revealed

Sutter, who has learned to speak fluent German. ”Not just my

football but where I come from, how my life is.

”When you just chat with him face-to-face you just think, ‘This

is Ottmar Hitzfeld that I’m talking to, like, one-on-one talking

about my family!’ It’s a bit surreal. It’s special.”

When Hitzfeld names his team to play England, Sutter expects the

right-back to be established starter Stephan Lichtsteiner, the

Lazio player who was a standout in World Cup qualification and

played every minute of Switzerland’s three matches in South

Africa.

Sutter began at under-21 level as Lichtsteiner’s deputy, and now

is reunited with former colleagues like goalkeeper Diego Benaglio,

left-back Reto Ziegler and midfielder Gokhan Inler.

They form his extended football family more than the England

players coming to Switzerland, none of whom he recalls facing in

youth football stints with Millwall, Barnet, Aston Villa and

Charlton Athletic.

Sutter wants to play in England’s Premier League one day, but

right now he wants to impress Switzerland’s coach, players and

fans.

”Obviously you don’t know really where you stand,” Sutter

said, ”but it’s just important to show a bit of confidence and

know what I can do.”