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World Cup special for Swiss family Degen

Philipp (left) and David Degen put their heads together for Switzerland Keystone

The World Cup is a career highlight for all of the Swiss national team players but this year's tournament has a special meaning for brothers Philipp and David Degen.

This content was published on June 15, 2006 - 16:18

The pair spoke to swissinfo in Stuttgart and explained what it means for them to become only the fifth set of twins in World Cup history to take part in the tournament.

"It is a unique and special moment for us to come to the World Cup together as twins. We both hope that we can contribute a lot to Switzerland's success," said Philipp, the younger of the brothers by 30 minutes.

"I feel proud that David is representing his country and I know that he feels proud of my achievements."

Born in canton Basel Country on February 15, 1983, the twins not only resembled each other physically, but also displayed a talent for football at an early age.

Eye catchers

Their careers have followed a similar path as they represented local club FC Oberdorf at junior level before catching the eye of Super League giants FC Basel and eventually winning international honours.

But looks and career paths are not the only similarities the twins share. They also both have an almost extra-sensory connection.

"We understand each other like a blind person who can sense his surroundings without sight," said Philipp.

"When we are playing together we know what the other is going to do next and that can be an advantage.

"When David is playing and I am watching it feels like I am on the pitch with him. We think practically the same the same thoughts and do more or less the same things on and off the pitch."

Despite being the older sibling David has not enjoyed quite the same meteoric rise as Philipp, who made his international debut a year earlier and is now a regular fixture in the Swiss team.

No sour grapes

But David insists that there are no sour grapes even after seeing Philipp make a dream move to German top flight side Borussia Dortmund a year ago.

"We have always been very good friends and like each other a lot. We do sometimes fight, but this is normal between brothers and part of life," he told swissinfo.

"I say what I think and Philipp says what he thinks and we meet in the middle. It is a lot better to live like that."

Parity was somewhat restored when Swiss coach Köbi Kuhn named both brothers in his World Cup squad for Germany. David likened the moment to a match both played for Basel when they defeated Grasshoppers 4-0 away at the Hardturm stadium in Zurich three years ago.

"That match was also significant because it was the first time we made the starting line-up together as professional players," he said.

For Philipp, the inclusion of David in Switzerland's World Cup squad was the icing on the cake.

"On one level David is a normal team-mate because we are a united group of players who treat each other like brothers. But of course David is special to me because he is my twin," he said.

Philipp played the full 90 minutes in Switzerland's opening game against France while David was an unused substitute.

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Stuttgart

Key facts

David Degen career record:
FC Oberdorf 1990-1996
FC Basel 1996-1999
FC Aarau 1999-2003
FC Basel 2003-present
Three caps for senior Swiss national side (debut vs Ivory Coast, May 2006)

Philipp Degen career record:
FC Oberdorf 1990-1996
FC Basel 1996-2005
Borussia Dortmund 2005-present
16 caps for senior Swiss national side (debut vs United Arab Emirates, February 2005)

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Footballing twins

There have been four other sets of twins that have appeared in the World Cup finals:

Willy and René Van De Kerkhof played in the 1974 and 1978 finals for the Netherlands.

Ibrahim and Hossam Hassan represented Egypt in 1990.

Frank and Ronald De Boer were the second set of twins to play in the orange shirts of the Netherlands in the World Cup, making two appearances in 1994 and 1998.

Poland's Michal and Marcin Zewlakow appeared in the last World Cup finals in 2002.

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