Mattia Bottani est arrivé jeudi à Bad Ragaz. Ses premiers pas en tant qu’international suisse.

Football: Mattia Bottani, suspected surprise guest of the Swiss team

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At 31, the Ticino native didn’t expect to be called up to the Swiss team. To the point where he had to cancel his vacation.

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Valentine Schnorch

(Bad Ragaz (SG))

Mattia Bottani arrived in Bad Ragaz on Thursday. His first steps as a Swiss national player.

fresh focus

Tickets to Greece had been booked for a long time. Reservations stalled. But the plane went without Mattia Bottani. Postponed Holidays. For a good cause. The Hellenic beaches will come to Bad Ragaz and its tranquility. “It’s better to be here,” laughed the Ticino on Thursday. At the age of 31 he is living his dream: he played with the Swiss team in the four Nations League games (in the Czech Republic, Portugal, against Spain and Portugal), for which Murat Yakin nominated him.

Bottani obviously hadn’t expected that. Until the message from Vincent Cavin (Yakin’s assistant who has known him for years) preceding the coach’s call. “I was ready to go on vacation,” he smiles. But maybe it’s even nicer this way, after all this time. Because the train must have passed by a long time ago. The Luganese has been part of the Swiss football landscape for more than a decade: almost always at Bianconero, with the exception of one freelance at Wil, 2016-2017. Never really considered, even younger: he only has two selections for the Swiss U18 team and has nothing else to show for it.

The child of a canton

But in Ticino he has a different status: he is the local kid. The one we know, the one we see growing up. “I’ve had a difficult journey with ups and downs,” he recalls. As a person, as a player, it was still very good for me and this selection is a bit like the icing on the cake after a difficult career.

“I had a difficult journey. But as a person, as a player, it has been very good for me.

Mattia Bottani, new Swiss international

Bottani is also the one who missed a penalty on a day in 2016 in the Swiss Cup final (Lugano lost to Zurich). And especially the one who took revenge for his past ten days ago by helping his lifelong club win the Swiss Cup (4-1 vs St. Gallen, one goal). In keeping with a consistent season, five goals and six assists in the Super League, but most of all an unsettling ability to make the difference.

Something has changed. “He made a leap in personality and in game volume,” observes Pierluigi Tami, who coached him in Lugano in 2017-18. Technically it’s still just as good. The break can be deeper. It relates to everyday life. The bullshit of the past, “it’s better not to talk about it,” he laughs. There is one observation, however: “Botta” hurts a little less.

“You learn to manage your body a little better over time, as well as your private life,” confirms the playmaker. I’ve found some stability over the past few months. These are things that allow you to be better on the field. And then his trainer Mattia Croci-Torti manages him, even if it means skipping a few training sessions. “Crus has known me for so long, of course he has a role in this development, adds Bottani. Even if I don’t think there have been so many changes on site. Maybe I have more confidence. I always want the ball, I have fun with it.”

He hardly knows anyone

That’s why he was chosen. For his ability to conquer the ball and make the difference thanks to his flexible and quick handling of the ball. His profile is rare within the Swiss team. More unique than that of his lifelong friend Antonio Marchesano (who guided Zürich to the title and whose performances could very well have opened the doors of selection for him).

Mattia Bottani enjoys the moment and faces the press.

Mattia Bottani enjoys the moment and faces the press.

fresh focus

So Yakin chose him. So Mattia Bottani arrived in Bad Ragaz on Thursday with the attitude of a boy who still has to get used to the context. Nothing is really known. But he’s enjoying the moment. In modesty: “I especially hope to use the next few days to learn from all these great players. The goal is to help the team.”

“What can I bring to the team? Nice hair!”

Mattia Bottani, who dyed her hair pink after Lugano’s Swiss Cup win

What can he get her? “Beautiful hair!” he laughs. They have been colored light pink since the cup final. Result of a bet with members of FC Lugano. “If I had known that I was coming as a Swiss team, I might not have done it.” This makes the memory even more special. And maybe a way to make integration even easier.

Because Bottani is such a surprise guest that he hardly knows anyone from the current squad. “In addition to Gavranovic from Ticino, I just played with Shaqiri and Zuber in the U18s, but I don’t know them well. I will have time to get to know everyone.” Greece is already far away.


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