Florian Kamberi has seen several of his Hibs team-mates head off on international duty over the past fortnight and is eager to get a slice of the action himself.
The 23-year-old represented Switzerland four times at Under-21 level in 2016 and is now craving full caps. While he is eligible to play for Kosovo through his parents, the Zurich-born striker is in no doubt that his preferred choice is to lead the Swiss attack in the near future.
“My dream is to soon be an international player,” Kamberi told the Evening News.
“I grew up in Switzerland, so it would be a dream come true to play for the national team. Switzerland gave me everything. It gave my father the opportunity to work there and build everything for the family. Many of my family members live in Switzerland. It has given me everything, so it would make me proud to give something back, to represent and play for the national team.”
Kamberi’s parents moved from Kosovo to Switzerland shortly before he was born in 1995.
“First my uncle went to Switzerland and then he took my father with him when he was in his 20s,” said the Hibs striker. “They just started working there, ten-to-twelve hours per day and built everything and then he married my mother and they started to make everything as good as possible for me and my older brother Patrick. I was born in Switzerland, have a Swiss passport and went to school there. I’m from a small village 40 minutes from Zurich. If Switzerland call, it would be a dream come true. But you never know in life what happens. If you ask me what my dream is, then it would be to play for Switzerland because Switzerland gave me and my family everything.”
The Swiss squad is currently heavily populated with players from Serie A, the English Premier League and the Bundesliga, with a smattering of players from Basel and Young Boys, the two most prominent clubs in the domestic league. The attackers in the Swiss squad for the matches against Qatar and Belgium over the past week play for Basel, Benfica and Dinamo Zagreb. Given the calibre of options currently available to coach Vladimir Petkovic, Kamberi knows it will be a tall order to force his way in, but the Hibs forward has full faith in himself to achieve his dream.
“For me, my first focus is on Hibs and having another successful season here,” he said. “I think I just have to keep doing what I’m doing now, playing good football, being successful with Hibs, scoring my goals. I can’t do much more than that, so then it would be the decision of the Swiss coach if he wants to call me up. Until then, I will do everything I can to try and impress them.”
Hibs quartet Martin Boyle, Jamie Maclaren, Mark Milligan and Vykintas Slivka have all been away on full international duty over the past fortnight. While the Swiss national team is currently deemed stronger than that of Australia or Lithuania, Kamberi is hopeful that coaches in his homeland will not be discounting him from contention on the basis that he is playing in Scotland. I’ve never heard anything from anyone at the Swiss national team but I’ve played for the Under-21s so I think they will be aware of me and what I’m doing at Hibs,” he said.
“I think they will have an eye on me. I certainly hope they have an eye on me. But I just have to keep focused on performing my best every weekend and not worry about whether people are watching me or not. That will come because hard work pays off.”
Kamberi has scored 17 goals in ten months at Easter Road and the former Grasshopper striker feels his career has started to ignite since Hibs manager Neil Lennon first decided to offer him a contract in January.
“Since I came here in January, everything started going in the right direction for me,” he said.
“It’s not just because of me, it’s because of the whole club, my team-mates and especially the gaffer who gave me his trust since day one. He’s pushing me to the limit every day, he motivates me, so big thanks to him.”