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Best Swiss Football Players: A Legacy of Excellence

Swiss football has enjoyed a relatively successful era over the past decade. As such, you’re likely to encounter some familiar names as some of Switzerland’s finest players of all time are still playing at the professional level. Below is a condensed list from bestsoccertips of the best Swiss football players to date.

Top 10 Greatest Swiss Football Players of All Time

1. Stéphane Chapuisat

There have been many famous Swiss footballers who have played in the Bundesliga in Germany, but none of them achieved the success that Stéphane Chapuisat did during his time at Dortmund from 1991 to 1999. Right from the early days, Chapuisat showed potential to excel in this league, the pinnacle of European football. He began his career with Malley and later enjoyed a successful period at Lausanne. At the age of 22, Dortmund signed the Swiss forward, who was also playing for the national team. Chapuisat turned out to be one of Dortmund’s finest forwards of all time. The 1990s were Dortmund’s most prosperous period as they clinched two Bundesliga titles, two Supercups, and a Champions League trophy.

Best Swiss football players: Stéphane Chapuisat
Best Swiss football players: Stéphane Chapuisat

Stéphane Chapuisat played a crucial role in all those championship victories, scoring 102 goals in 218 appearances for BVB. Besides making the Bundesliga Team of the Season in 1992, Stéphane Chapuisat also ranked ninth in the Ballon d’Or standings for two consecutive years in 1992 and 1993. He was also honored as Switzerland’s Greatest Footballer of the Last 50 Years by the UEFA Jubilee Award in 2003. With the achievements throughout his marvelous career, we can say that Stéphane Chapuisat is one of the greatest Swiss footballers to date, if not the best.

2. Xherdan Shaqiri

Following the paths of Stéphane Chapuisat and Ciriaco Sforza, Xherdan Shaqiri stands as the third Swiss player to hoist the prestigious UEFA Champions League trophy, an achievement unmatched by his compatriots. Unlike the others, Shaqiri claimed this honor twice, showcasing his prowess on the grandest stage of European club football. Born in Albania like Granit Xhaka, Shaqiri opted for the Swiss national team early in his career. He honed his skills at Basel’s youth academy for eight years before earning promotion to the first team in 2007 at just 15 years old. His contributions played a pivotal role in Basel’s capture of 5 domestic titles.

Best Swiss footballers: Xherdan Shaqiri
Best Swiss footballers: Xherdan Shaqiri

Recognizing his talent, Bayern Munich secured Shaqiri’s services in 2012. Despite facing stiff competition, particularly from Arjen Robben, Shaqiri played a significant part in Bayern’s trophy-laden years, including clinching the UCL in 2013. His journey continued with Liverpool in 2018, where he added another UCL triumph in 2019. Shaqiri’s influence was evident in Liverpool’s historic comeback against Barcelona in the semi-finals, where he shone as one of the standout performers.

Despite often playing a supporting role at club level, Shaqiri has been a linchpin for the Swiss national team. With 100 caps to his name, he has delivered crucial goals on numerous occasions. Notable among them are his stunning strikes against Poland in EURO 2016, the decisive goal versus Serbia in the 2018 World Cup, and his three goals in the EURO 2020 campaign. These performances have cemented Shaqiri’s status not only as one of Switzerland’s finest footballers but also as a national icon.

3. Alexander Frei

With 42 goals in 84 matches, Alexander Frei is the all-time leading goal scorer for the Swiss national team, and it seems like his record won’t be surpassed anytime soon. It all began for Alexander Frei in 1997 when he made his debut with Basel. Being a prospect, he needed more playing time, so he moved on to play for teams like Thun and FC Luzern in the Swiss top flight. Eventually, he settled at Servette and scored 36 goals in 64 appearances for the Swiss club. In 2003, French club Rennes acquired him and believed him to be their number nine.

Best Swiss football players of all-time: Alexander Frei
Best Swiss football players of all-time: Alexander Frei

Winning the Ligue 1 Golden Boot in 2005 was a highlight of Frei’s career in France, and he then moved to Germany in 2006 to play for Borussia Dortmund. Despite enduring long-term injuries during his time at Dortmund, Alexander Frei remained a beloved figure, especially after scoring a brace against rivals Schalke 04 in a memorable derby. In 2009, Frei reunited with Basel to enjoy his final years as a professional footballer. In his four years at the club, Alexander Frei won the Swiss Golden Boot twice and helped his team secure seven titles. Frei consistently performed week in and week out and even scored a long-range free-kick in his farewell match; a perfect ending for one of the greatest Swiss footballers of all time.

4. Stephan Lichtsteiner

He is one of the few top Swiss players who never played for Basel in his career. Stephan Lichtsteiner made his debut for Grasshopper at the age of 17 as a right-back. After four years, he left Switzerland for France when Lille signed him, and he had three successful seasons with the French club. From 2008 to 2011, Stephan Lichtsteiner made 100 appearances for Lazio and won the Coppa Italia as well as a Supercup with The Eagles. As one of the best right-backs in the league, the Swiss international was signed by Juventus in 2011.

Best Swiss soccer player: Stephan Lichtsteiner
Best Swiss soccer player: Stephan Lichtsteiner

Juventus’s dominance in Italian football began in 2011, the same year Lichtsteiner moved to Turin. He had his best years as a player at Juventus under the management of Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri. Apart from winning seven consecutive league titles, Lichtsteiner played a crucial role in reaching the UCL finals in 2015 and 2017, but unfortunately, Juventus lost both finals. After seven fantastic seasons at the club, Lichtsteiner left Italy and had brief spells at Arsenal and Augsburg before retiring in 2020. He is also one of the five Swiss players with over 100 international caps.

5. Yann Sommer

The only goalkeeper in the list of Switzerland’s greatest footballers of all time; Yann Sommer. As one of Switzerland’s renowned footballers, Sommer began his professional football career at the age of 8 at the FC Herrilberg youth academy. Over the course of six years playing at Concordia, his talent was recognized by Basel scouts, and he joined the club’s academy in 2003 at the age of 15. Simultaneously, Yann Sommer proved to be a reliable shot-stopper for the Swiss national team across various age groups. His first taste of competitive football at a high level came during a loan spell at Vaduz.

Best Swiss football players: Yann Sommer
Best Swiss football players: Yann Sommer

Thanks to his outstanding performances, Vaduz secured promotion to the Swiss top flight. After a few seasons, Sommer returned to Basel and played a crucial role in winning 4 consecutive titles from 2010 to 2014. As one of the outstanding players in the Swiss Super League, several foreign clubs came knocking, and he ultimately succeeded. Borussia Mönchengladbach managed to sign the talented goalkeeper. He is currently in his eighth season with the German side and serves as the vice-captain of the team. Yann Sommer is the only goalkeeper to have won the Credit Suisse Player of the Year award multiple times. This award is bestowed upon the best player of the Swiss national team, and Sommer was honored with it in 2016 and 2018.

6. Granit Xhaka

He might not be the most consistent player in our list of Switzerland’s greatest footballers of all time, but it’s hard to deny that in his prime days, Granit Xhaka was one of the finest midfielders around. Like many other top Swiss players, Xhaka is a product of the Basel academy and made his first-team debut in 2010 at the age of 18. The move to Borussia Mönchengladbach was his next step, where he established himself as a creative central midfielder, also possessing some top-notch defensive skills.

Best swiss footballers: Granit Xhaka
Best swiss footballers: Granit Xhaka

In 2016, Arsenal paid £35 million to acquire the Swiss international to London. Although his career at Arsenal has had its ups and downs, Granit Xhaka has always been a reliable player for his national team. At EURO 2016, he played every minute throughout the tournament until they were knocked out in the round of 16. He also led the Swiss midfield in the thrilling 2018 World Cup match and scored the decisive goal in the comeback victory against Serbia in the group stage. At 29 years old, Granit Xhaka still has plenty of time ahead to solidify his status as one of Switzerland’s greatest footballers of all time.

7. Kubilay Türkyilmaz

Kubilay Türkyilmaz might not be the greatest player in our list, but he’s a prolific goal scorer both at club and international levels. Türkyilmaz was born in Bellinzona, Switzerland, and began his football career at his local club AC Bellinzona in 1986 at the age of 18. 46 goals in 79 appearances is an impressive record for a forward at his age. He then moved abroad to play for Bologna and Galatasaray, winning a championship with the latter. Upon returning to Switzerland, Kubilay Türkyilmaz proved himself as one of the top players in the Swiss league, scoring 51 goals in just 84 matches and leading Grasshopper to two titles.

Best Swiss football players of all-time: Kubilay Türkyilmaz
Best Swiss football players of all-time: Kubilay Türkyilmaz

His international numbers are also notable. In his last 8 outings for the Swiss national team, Kubilay Türkyilmaz scored 14 goals, including two hat-tricks against Azerbaijan and the Faroe Islands. Finally, in 2001, Kubilay Türkyilmaz ended his career with 34 goals in just 64 appearances to become the second-highest goal scorer for the Swiss national team. He also won the Swiss Player of the Year award for three consecutive years from 1995 to 1998.

8. Gokhan Inler

As a skilled midfielder who has played for Udinese, Napoli, Leicester City, and Besiktas, Gökhan Inler stands as one of the finest Swiss footballers. Inler spent three years in Basel’s youth academy but never played for the first team. In 2005, his journey as a professional footballer began at Aarau, and two years later, Udinese signed him, where he found opportunities to play in one of the world’s top leagues. Four successful seasons at Udinese were rewarded with a move to Napoli in 2011, where he became an integral part of a thrilling Napoli side and won two Coppa Italia titles and a Supercoppa.

Best Swiss soccer player: Gokhan Inler
Best Swiss soccer player: Gokhan Inler

His next stop was at Leicester in the English Premier League under the management of Claudio Ranieri. Although not featuring much in his sole season with The Foxes, Gökhan Inler earned a Premier League gold medal in a fairy tale campaign. This box-to-box midfielder has also earned 89 caps for the Swiss national team and, at the time of this writing, is the ninth most-capped player for the national team.

9. Josef Hügi

Another FC Basel legend who donned the club’s jersey from 1948 to 1962. Josef Seppe Hügi didn’t kickstart his professional football career until the 1940s when he was still a student at the University of Basel, joining the city’s renowned football club. Turns out, Hügi was a goal-scoring forward of extraordinary caliber. In 320 appearances for Basel, Hügi netted an astonishing 244 goals.

Best Swiss football players: Josef Hügi
Best Swiss football players: Josef Hügi

Josef Hügi also demonstrated his prowess on the national stage. He represented the Swiss national team 34 times and scored 22 goals. Among these were six goals at the 1954 World Cup held in Switzerland, where the host nation reached the quarterfinals thanks to Josef Hügi’s contributions. He remains one of Switzerland’s all-time leading goal scorers, a feat that surely qualifies him as one of the greatest Swiss footballers of all time.

10. Massimo Ceccaroni

The club retired only two jersey numbers in its history. One was the number 12 dedicated to the fans as they are the 12th player, and the other was the number 2 retired out of respect for Massimo Ceccaroni. That should give you an idea of the legendary career of the Swiss defender. As you might guess from his name, Ceccaroni is an Italian-born Swiss defender who played for FC Basel for 14 years until 2002, bidding farewell to the club.

There are many reasons why Massimo Ceccaroni is one of Basel’s most beloved players. He joined the club’s youth academy at the age of 9, and ten years later, he made his senior debut. Basel was going through a tough period then, relegated in the same season Ceccaroni joined the first team at the age of 19. Yet, he remained loyal to the club and helped them regain their top-flight status.

Best Swiss footballers: Massimo Ceccaroni
Best Swiss footballers: Massimo Ceccaroni

Since then, he became a fan favorite, and his consistent performances over more than a decade made him one of the most beloved players.

Ceccaroni is also famous for something no footballer wants to be known for! In his 398 appearances for Basel, Massimo Ceccaroni did not score a single goal at the professional level; he even had opportunities from penalty kicks but was denied by the goalkeeper. So, Ceccaroni ended his legendary career without ever performing a goal celebration, not even once.


Among the greatest Swiss footballers of all time, ranging from modern players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Yann Sommer to legends of the past like Josef Hügi and Massimo Ceccaroni, each has left a profound mark on the history of Swiss football. The diversity in positions and playing styles has highlighted the development of Swiss football through the decades. From patience and loyalty to talent and achievement, these players have made themselves remembered by fans and the football world alike. They will surely continue to be honored and remembered as legends of Swiss football for many generations to come.

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