FIFA World Cup countdown: Top 10 Swiss players of all time

As part of the countdown to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Sports Mole takes a look at the top 10 players in the history of Swiss football.

While Switzerland are regular competitors in the World Cup, it has been a long time since they troubled the latter stages of the competition. Indeed, their best performance was reaching the quarter-finals in 1934, 1938 and 1954 - the latter of which they also hosted.

However, they did claim an unusual World Cup record in 2006, becoming the first team in the tournament's history to be eliminated without conceding a goal. Having kept three clean sheets in the groups they were then beaten by Ukraine in a penalty shootout in the last 16.

They went on to keep another clean sheet in the first match of the 2010 edition, setting a World Cup record for consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.

Here, to continue our countdown to the 2014 tournament, Sports Mole looks at the top 10 players in the history of Swiss football.

10. Stephane Henchoz (1993-2006, 72 caps, no goals)

Former Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz in action for Switzerland on April 28, 2004.© Getty Images

A name well known to fans of English football, Stephane Henchoz spent the majority of his club career in the Premier League following spells in his native Switzerland and Germany. His most notable period came with Liverpool, where he spent six years having joined from Blackburn Rovers in 1999.

At Anfield, the centre-back was part of the Reds' historic treble in 2000-01 as they won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup under Gerard Houllier. Henchoz also added another League Cup to that haul before moving to Celtic, where he picked up the Scottish Cup.

At international level, Henchoz played in both Euro '96 and Euro 2004, but missed out on the World Cup having retired just before the 2006 tournament due to health problems. In all, he made 72 appearances during a 13-year international career.

9. Johann Vogel (1995-2007, 94 caps, two goals)

Switzerland's Johann Vogel hurdles a challenge from France midfielder Zinedine Zidane on June 13, 2006.© Getty Images

Falling just six appearances short of a century of caps for his country, Johann Vogel captained the team until his retirement from the international scene in 2007. During his 12-year career on the world stage, he appeared in two European Championships and the 2006 World Cup.

A successful seven-year stint with Grasshopper at club level yielded three league titles and a Swiss Cup, eventually earning the midfielder a move to PSV Eindhoven. There, he added a further four league titles and the KNVB Cup to his trophy haul before spending a season with Italian giants AC Milan.

During his time in Holland he also helped PSV to a surprise appearance in the Champions League semi-finals as part of a formidable midfield alongside Mark van Bommel and Phillip Cocu. Individually, he was named Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2001.

8. Umberto Barberis (1975-85, 54 caps, seven goals)

While Umberto Barberis's career coincided with a relatively barren spell in terms of major competitions for Switzerland, his impact on both the international scene and at club level was substantial.

Having made his name as a tricky winger at FC Sion, Barberis went on to spend a brief spell at Grasshopper before longer stints with both Servette and Monaco. In all, he won two Swiss titles, four Swiss Cups and four more Swiss League Cups while also adding a Ligue 1 title and Coupe de France to his trophy haul.

He was named as the Swiss Footballer of the Year on three separate occasions - including two years in a row - while in France he was awarded the Foreign Footballer of the Year gong twice in succession.

7. Kubilay Turkyilmaz (1988-2001, 62 caps, 34 goals)

Switzerland's Kurbilay Turkyilmaz battles for possession against Scotland on June 18, 1996.© Getty Images

A Swiss player of Turkish descent, Kubilay Turkyilmaz once refused to play against Turkey in an international fixture for fear of being branded a traitor. He had no such misgivings against other teams, however, as England found out to their cost as he scored the equalising goal against them in the opening match of Euro 96.

The finest spell of his Switzerland career came at the end, however, as the striker netted 14 times in his last eight matches for the national team. That took him up to 34 goals overall, making him the joint-highest scorer in Switzerland's history at the time of his retirement.

Something of a journeyman at club level, Turkyilmaz never spent longer than three years with a single team, racking up playing time in Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. His only piece of silverware during his travels came with Galatasaray, who he helped to a league title in 1993-94.

6. Alain Geiger (1980-96, 112 caps, five goals)

Alain Geiger awaits the Switzerland national anthem on October 11, 1995.© Getty Images

While the stereotypical centre-back is a big, bruising figure at the heart of the defence, Alain Geiger broke the mould during his 20-year career. Standing at just 5'11", he proved that height and physicality were not prerequisites to be a top international defender.

In all, he made a whopping 112 appearances for his country, putting him behind only Heinz Hermann in the list of Switzerland's most capped players. He captained the team in the 1994 World Cup and in Euro '96, where he made his final international appearance in the 1-1 draw against England - the same team he debuted against 16 years previously.

While he spent a short spell in France, the vast majority of Geiger's club career was played in his native Switzerland. Having won two league titles and three cups with Sion and Servette, his finest moment came in leading the unfashionable Neuchatel Xamax to two consecutive Swiss League crowns, which remain the only title successes in the club's history.

5. Alexander Frei (2001-11, 86 caps, 42 goals)

Switzerland striker Alexander Frei celebrates scoring against Russia on June 07, 2003.© Getty Images

While his international career ended amid a storm of criticism from his own fans, there can be no doubting Alexander Frei's contribution to the national setup. He featured in two European Championships and the 2006 World Cup, finding the net twice in the latter as Switzerland went out without conceding a goal.

His tally of 42 international goals is the best in Switzerland's history, while his ratio of just under a goal a game is also impressive. At club level he played with Dortmund in the Bundesliga as well as enjoying stints in France and his native country.

His most successful spell came with Basel, where he won four consecutive league titles and two Swiss Cups towards the end of his career. Individually, he was named the Swiss Footballer of the Year on three occasions.

4. Max Abegglen (1922-37, 68 caps, 34 goals)

For more than 60 years, Max Abegglen stood alone as the highest goalscorer in Switzerland's history. His tally of 34 international goals was only equalled by Kubilay Turkyilmaz in 2001, while Alexander Frei has since overtaken both players.

Commonly known as 'Xam', Abegglen began his international career in style, scoring a hat-trick against Italy in 1922. He scored another three goals in the 1924 Olympics as Switzerland claimed a silver medal, only being beaten by Uruguay in the final.

Swiss fans will argue that Abegglen is one of the finest players to have never featured in a World Cup having missed out on the 1934 edition. He made his final appearance for his country three years later as his side fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany. His legacy is very much intact in his home country, with two-time Swiss champions Neuchatel Xamax named after him.

3. Heinz Hermann (1978-91, 118 caps, 15 goals)

Another whose career coincided with Switzerland's absence from the major international tournaments, Heinz Hermann still managed to amass an impressive list of honours during his playing days. Spending his entire club career in his home country, he won seven league titles and three cups with three different teams.

Included in that haul are back-to-back championships for Neuchatel Xamax, the first and so far only title successes in the club's history. While silverware may have been lacking on the international stage, Hermann still managed to make 118 appearances for Switzerland - more than any other player.

His quality was recognised throughout his career, and from the mid to late-80s he was widely accepted to be the best Swiss player in the world. Indeed, he won his country's Footballer of the Year award five times in a row between 1984 and 1988.

2. Josef Hugi (1951-60, 34 caps, 22 goals)

An idol of both Basel and the Swiss national team, Josef Hugi was a prolific goalscorer at club and international level. For Basel, he netted 224 times in just 320 matches during a 14-year spell with the team.

While his international career was relatively short compared to other names on this list, Hugi made a lasting impression with 22 goals in just 34 appearances. His finest moment came at the 1954 World Cup on home soil as he scored six goals, a tally only bettered by the great Hungarian Sandor Kocsis.

Those six goals also make him the highest scorer for Switzerland in World Cups despite only having featured in the tournament once.

1. Stephane Chapuisat (1989-2004, 103 caps, 21 goals)

Stephane Chapuisat in action for Switzerland against Spain at the World Cup on July 03, 1994.© Getty Images

A linchpin of the Swiss side throughout the 1990s, Stephane Chapuisat ended his distinguished career with more than 100 caps for the national team. During that time, he appeared in two European Championships and the 1994 World Cup, scoring in a 4-1 win over Romania in the latter.

The majority of his club career was spent with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped to a golden period of their history. The team won back-to-back league titles and then followed that up with success in the Champions League in 1996-97. In all, he scored more than 250 league goals throughout his career.

Individually, the striker was named as the Swiss Footballer of the Year on four occasions, including three years in a row between 1992 and 1994. As part of UEFA's Jubilee celebrations, the Swiss FA also named him their most outstanding player of the previous 50 years.

Switzerland will face Ecuador, France and Honduras in the group stages of this summer's World Cup, and you can follow every match live with Sports Mole.

Continuing our 50-day countdown to the tournament, we will be looking at the greatest players in the history of the United States tomorrow. You can also see all of the World Cup top 10 lists so far by clicking here.

Who is the greatest Swiss footballer of all time?

Stephane Chapuisat
Josef Hugi
Heinz Hermann
Max Abegglen
Alexander Frei
Alain Geiger
Kubilay Turkyilmaz
Umberto Barberis
Johann Vogel
Stephane Henchoz
Stephane Chapuisat
Josef Hugi
Heinz Hermann
Max Abegglen
Alexander Frei
Alain Geiger
Kubilay Turkyilmaz
Umberto Barberis
Johann Vogel
Stephane Henchoz
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