Ever heard of Xherdan Shaqiri? If the answer is no, then you're probably not reading this in Switzerland. His stocky frame, boyish grin and dodgy earring are staring out of almost every billboard in Zurich, and presumably in each and every Swiss town. He's the moody character in the picture above.
As another valiant England defeat signals that the World Cup is well and truly here, the Swiss are gearing up for their first game against Ecuador this evening. And much of their hope rests on the rather broad shoulders of Herr Shaqiri.
The star of the Swiss national side, Shaqiri plys his trade during the club season for European football behemoth Bayern Munich. He rose to fame playing for Basel, and notably gave Manchester United's defenders a torrid time when the two teams met in European competition, setting up two goals.
If you take a look at the team sheet you can probably see that they have a point. Midfielder Valon Behrami was born in Kosovo, captain Gokhan Inler has Turkish roots, Blerim Dzemaili moved to Switzerland from Macedonia when he was four, strikers Josip Drmic and Mario Gavranovic both have Croatian families, the list goes on.
In fact, it makes me wonder why those objecting to the recent ruling on introducing immigration quotas didn't point to the disastrous effect that it could have on the Swiss national team (or "Nati" as it's known here).
With this tournament to mark the end of the respected Ottmar Hitzfeld's reign as manager of Switzerland, the natives here are hoping Shaqiri and co. can fire their boys in red to prominence on the World Stage. In fact, they seem pretty confident. All the talk in the papers today was about the Swiss getting to the quarter finals.
I hope for my own personal experience of the tournament that the Swiss do well. It would be nice to be in a country that had some good performances to celebrate for a change (though I actually thought England did pretty well against Italy).
Watching the tournament in Zurich should be a great experience. Switzerland has a team of non-Swiss names because it's an international place, Zurich in particular. And that makes it a great place to be for the World Cup,
Case in point, Zoe and I had a good time on Friday night watching Spain against Holland with the Spanish guys that I work with. Even though the atmosphere went steadily from "fiesta" to "siesta" as Netherlands scored goal after goal, it was great to experience the emotion of the game with those amigos that really cared.
So, tonight I'll be inverting my St. George's flag and shouting "Hopp Schwiiz" (come on the Swiss).
I imagine there will be a few people in Albania and Kosovo doing the same.
Liverpool vs Everton, City vs United, Celtic vs Rangers.
These are the big clashes that come to mind when you think about big city rivalries on the football pitch. But Grasshopper Club Zurich against FC Zurich? That has to be a tame affair given the straight laced nature of the Swiss right?
Well, no, it isn't, as Zoe and I found out when we headed to the match on Saturday night. Having been to one Grasshoppers game before I thought I knew roughly what to expect, but it turns out a derby is a derby even here in der Schweiz.
On arrival at the Letzigrund Stadium I already noticed a different atmosphere in comparison to the match I'd watched when the boys came to visit. This time the streets around the ground were filled with fans drinking cans.
The reason for this became apparent when we got into the ground only to find in order to try and take the sting out of the derby atmosphere only alcohol free beer was on sale inside the ground. And there was no way back out. Rookie mistake.
Soon, however, the hordes who had now consumed enough booze to power them through a whole 90 minutes began to fill up the standing end of the FCZ Zurich 'Ultras' - the hardcore fans. Basically the complete polar opposite of the stereotypical Zurich native - loud and hammered and hurling abuse.
I kind of hope that they were the same people that commute quietly on the tram to their jobs at banks during the week and don't dream of rebelling by doing their washing on Sunday. And that the balaclavas they were wearing were the same which they wore for the family ski trip to Davos. That this was just them letting off all the steam from what could otherwise be a very civilised existence.
Though the two teams share the stadium, this was technically an FCZ home game. We'd therefore got FCZ tickets in the stand next door to the crazy ultras. And it proved interesting before a ball had been kicked.
About 5 minutes before kick off a group of lads in bomber jackets sporting mohican hair cuts unfurled a huge banner that was rolled above the heads of the crowd in the FCZ end, carried above our heads. Being underneath it I have no idea what it said but I assume something derogatory to the Grasshopper fans penned in at the other end of the ground.
This on its own was more excitement than I've been used to at a Swiss footy match but that was nothing. A few rows in front of us flares began going off beneath the canopy, filling the stand with smoke.
Taking in her first continental football experience Zoe was understandably a bit unnerved and asked whether we should be worried about breathing in the smoke. Given that you are unlikely to choke on so much as the words of a song at a Blackburn Rovers match these days, such is the placid nature of the crowd, I had no idea. Even the ultras I'd stood alongside at FCN Nuremberg during my time in Germany had only ever threatened my respiratory health with the odd cigarette.
Thankfully at that moment the canopy was then pulled away and the smoke cleared to reveal the derby was underway.
In the paddock next to us the flares continued to burn. An announcement that would be repeated throughout the match warned the FZC fans that flares weren't allowed in the stadium. They didn't care. This one of their few chances to rebel and they were going to make the most of it.
And it wasn't long before the goals began to go in. After a ridiculous handball in his own box by FCZ defender Yassine Chikhaoui gifted a penalty to the Grasshoppers. In his bright green away strip (what else would a self respecting Grasshopper wear on his travels) Izet Hajrovic stepped up to score despite being blinded by a laser from the Ultras end (see pic above).
And Chikhaoui was the culprit again as Grasshoppers went 2-0 up, this time his block sending a shot looping over the head of his own goalkeeper.
This didn't stop the FCZ singing and burning flares (I dread to think how they got them into the ground given the extensive frisking given to all fans on the way in) and it didn't stop FCZ pressing either, before half time they'd reduced the deficit to 2-1 through a penalty of their own.
The best bit of play of the match came early in the second half, a lovely interchange of passes saw Chikhoaui redeem himself somewhat by laying the ball off to the penalty scorer Milan Gajic who equalised with a brilliant low strike.
Cue a leap over the hoardings to celebrate in front of the FCZ faithful who responded by, well, setting off more flares of course! Oh, and hurling a few firecrackers for good measure.
It certainly wasn't a game for the faint hearted and it proved too much for FCZ goal hero Gajic who had to be taken off to be checked for a cardiac issue.
And it wasn't over there - Grasshoppers showed why they are challenging for the title and FC Zurich aren't. Two goals from well worked corners, together with some brilliant saves from their goalkeeper, gave them the derby day glory.
It was a real goal-fest and great experience. Zoe's only complaint was that all the pyrotechnics coming from the Ultras block didn't give off any heat - it was absolutely freezing in the stadium when the sun went down.
That said, the roar from the FCZ fans, even in defeat, was heart- warming and although Grasshoppers take the bragging rights, FC Zurich won the battle of the fans. The scorch marks on the roof of the south stand serve as testimony to that.
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.