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Page last updated at 05:11 GMT, Tuesday, 17 August 2010 06:11 UK

Spurs fan Scott Sutter plots Young Boys' success

Scott Sutter
Sutter moved to Switzerland as a 16-year-old in 2002

By Phil Dawkes

Few people in England may have heard of Scott Sutter.

But the pairing of the full-back's BSC Young Boys side with Tottenham in the Champions League qualifiers is thrusting the Enfield-born 24-year-old into the limelight.

Such media attention in his homeland may be alien to Sutter but, for the man who used to watch Tottenham from the stands at White Hart Lane, the reason for it is a dream come true.

"It was amazing for me when I was watching the draw with my dad and the first two names out of the hat were ours and Tottenham," Sutter told BBC Sport.

"I jumped up and punched the air. The club I support and once had a season ticket at... I can finally play at White Hart Lane. It couldn't get any better."

Born in London to an English mother and Swiss father, Sutter had spells in the youth setups at Millwall, Barnet, Aston Villa and Charlton before opting to accept a contract with Grasshoppers Zurich as a 16-year-old in 2002. In June 2009, he moved to Young Boys.


Like Owen Hargreaves and Colin Kazim-Richards before him, he is now a player whose reputation will be forged in his homeland through the Champions League as opposed to the Premier League.

"My dad is Swiss, he was born and brought up over here and then he met my mum and lived in England for the last 35 years so he always had contacts and relations over here," explains Sutter.

"I had the chance to come and train with Grasshoppers when I was 14 and they offered me a contract.

"Then I had the chance after I'd finished school, which was important for my mum, my dad and me, to move out there. I could either stay for a year at Charlton, where I was at the time, or move to Switzerland.

"The idea of playing abroad and learning a new language and having to do things for myself, it appealed to me and I thought 'if I don't make it as a footballer, I would at least learn something and have the experience'.

"Obviously it went well… my first game was when I had just turned 18 and I've played pretty much week in, week out since then."

In an era that regularly sees foreign players come to England to play, Sutter is a rare example of an English player who has moved in the opposite direction to play top-flight football abroad.

In recent years, the likes of Michael Owen, Jonathan Woodgate (both Real Madrid) and Jay Bothroyd (Perugia) have all moved abroad and returned having made relatively little impact.

And the list of English players currently playing top-flight football abroad is a very small one, of which the likes of David Beckham (LA Galaxy and AC Milan), Jermaine Pennant (Real Zaragoza), Robbie Fowler (Perth Glory) and Matt Derbyshire (Olympiakos) are the best known.

Sutter's parentage invariably made it easier for him to acclimatise to Switzerland, but the move was still a daunting step for someone so young to take - and he is understanding of why so few players choose to do it.

"Every player has their own path and what they want to do," says Sutter. "A lot of players don't want to move away when they are aged between 14 and 16.

"Comfort zone is a big factor. Moving away from your family and friends is not an easy step. Plus, there's the language barrier.

"But in my opinion, the English Premier League is the best in the world and I think with the money and the media and the fans it is something that every boy dreams of.

"All young players in youth teams believe that they are good enough to make it and play in the Premier League and this is a dream they want to pursue and not move away from England."

However, in a time when the quality of English youngsters is under the microscope following the national side's unsuccessful World Cup in South Africa, Sutter is a firm advocate of the benefits of moving to play abroad.

"A lot of people ask me about moving and wonder 'why would you move away from England, it's one of the top leagues in the world' and yes, it's true, but when I look at the Premier League now, the majority of the players are foreign and have learned their trade abroad," he says.

Kevin Keegan (Hamburg 1977-80)
Trevor Francis (Sampdoria 1982-85)
Gary Lineker (Barcelona 1986-89)
Chris Waddle (Marseille 1989-92)
David Platt (Juventus & Sampdoria 1992-95)
Steve McManaman (Real Madrid 1999-2003)
Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich 2000-07)
David Beckham (Real Madrid 2003-07)

"When I looked at the technical ability of these players and the training they provided at Grasshoppers from such a young age, it was all technique based and that added something to my game that I wouldn't probably have learned that well if I had stayed in England.

"I consider myself quite a technically good player and the training I received here has helped me.

"I just felt it was a good decision for me to not only learn football, such as technique and stuff, but also about myself, which I can now carry on to the pitch in experience."

Sutter's journey has not been without its setbacks: in June 2007 he suffered ankle cartilage damage during a pre-season friendly, which eventually kept him sidelined for 19 months and almost ended his career.

But he recovered fully and is now determined to make the most of the opportunities afforded him, starting with the games against Tottenham in Switzerland on 17 August and at White Hart Lane eight days later.

"I'm still relatively young and I just hope I can play well in the next season, go as far as I can in the Champions League and if not, in the Europa League," he says.

"Now I am on the radar with the media. They know now there is an English player playing in Switzerland, where as a lot of the time it was said I was a Swiss player because I've got a Swiss passport and not many people knew my background in England.

"But being on a stage like the Champions League is a place where you can present yourself and show what you can do and hopefully I can do that against Tottenham."

Having represented Switzerland at under-21 level, what are his hopes of making a bow on the full international stage, possibly with the country of his birth?

"I kept myself open for England when I was 21 and had to decide what route I wanted to go down," he explains.

"I was always an England fan and went to the pub to watch the games, then the next day I would have to go and play for Switzerland so it was a strange situation.

"It is open. Since my injury things have changed and if I got the opportunity to play for Switzerland I definitely wouldn't turn it down.

"I'm not thinking that far ahead though, I'm just concentrating on playing well."

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see also
Spurs face Young Boys in Europe
06 Aug 10 |  Europe
European draws as they happened
06 Aug 10 |  Europe
British clubs learn Europa rivals
06 Aug 10 |  Europe
Redknapp looking to bolster Spurs
02 Aug 10 |  Tottenham
International date vexes Redknapp
31 Jul 10 |  Football

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