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.
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.