Young Boys have "a good chance" of qualifying
Spurs may be favourites to qualify for the Uefa Champions League group stages, but critics should not write Young Boys off, defender Scott Sutter tells swissinfo.ch.
Young Boys of Bern caused a major upset by beating London team Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in the first leg of the Champions League football play-off at the Stade de Suisse. The second leg takes place at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night.
Born in Enfield, London, to an English mother and Swiss father, Sutter played for Millwall, Barnet, Aston Villa and Charlton youth teams in England before signing to Grasshopper Club Zurich in 2002 at the age of 16. He moved to Young Boys in June 2009.
The 24-year-old right back is a lifelong Spurs fan, owning his first season ticket at the age of ten.
swissinfo.ch: How do you feel about playing at White Hart Lane on Wednesday?
Scott Sutter: I’m obviously very excited about the whole thing, flying over to London where I grew up, training in the stadium the day before the game, when it’s completely empty, not to mention the game.
swissinfo.ch: How do you rate your chances of qualifying for the Champions League group stages?
S.S.: We went into the first game as absolute outsiders and that still remains the case, especially playing away at White Hart Lane.
But I think our chances are still good. We’ve shown before in the past that we play better when we play away - last year we beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 [in the Europa League third qualifying round first leg] and we won 1-0 in Istanbul against Fenerbahce [in the second leg qualifying match to reach the play-offs]. I don’t think anyone should be too quick to write us off. We’re definitely good for a goal or two.
We just need to keep set pieces to a minimum, as obviously they are very dangerous in that area. If we can start well against them I think we’ve got a good chance.
We are going into the game to win, not looking for a 0-0 or 1-1 draw.
swissinfo.ch: What happened to Spurs in the first leg (3-0 down after 30 minutes)?
S.S.: I think they were shocked by the way things started. I definitely think they underestimated us, but that’s natural in a way. Not too many people in Europe know about the Swiss league. But the difference between teams like Tottenham, or others in the top leagues, and the top teams in the Swiss league, is not that great – that’s been shown time and time again.
I wasn’t really surprised how bad they were, but we defended well and started well but it will be a different game at White Hart Lane; they are playing at home.
swissinfo.ch: Did your artificial pitch make a difference?
S.S.: I think it played a small role. But I find it amazing how many people complain about it. I remember when I played for Grasshoppers and had to play at Young Boys on the Astroturf; I didn’t think twice about it – it wasn’t a problem.
Players of Tottenham’s quality shouldn’t have had problems. The difference for us is that we train on it every day.
But there is not a big difference between a perfectly cut pitch, like the one at White Hart Lane, and Astroturf.
swissinfo.ch: What are Young Boys’ strengths as a team?
S.S.: We are a very young side but we play well together. We are strong tactically. Last season we played 3-4-3 and now we’ve changed to 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1. We’ve got the ability to change things according to how the game is going.
Our weakness at the moment is that we concede goals early on, which has never made things easy in the league. We normally get a lot of chances and it’s up to us to score them.
swissinfo.ch: What were the advantages of moving to Switzerland as a young player rather than staying in England?
S.S.: The main reason I moved out here was the quality of the training. We had two Dutch coaches [at Grasshoppers] and they just drilled it into the juniors to learn basic techniques.
When I came here for work experience at 14 and then came back two years later I saw how much progress each player had made. That helped me and added something to my game that I probably wouldn’t have learned if I’d stayed in England.
And the benefit of moving away from home and learning a new language helps you grow up much quicker and helps with all aspects of life, not just football.
swissinfo.ch: You are a dual national with British and Swiss passports. Who would you rather play for at international level - England or Switzerland?
S.S.: If both called me, I would go for England as it’s my home and where I grew up. I still consider myself an England fan. I watch the games and cheer for them. When Switzerland play England I’m more an England fan.
But that all seems a bit far off. You’d need to play in the Premier League for that to happen, and if the chance came along to play for Switzerland, I wouldn’t turn it down.
Simon Bradley, swissinfo.ch
Uefa Champions League play-off
Young Boys beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 on August 17 at the Stade de Suisse in Bern in the first leg of the Champions League play-off match. The winner of the two legs goes through to the group stages against teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan.
This is the first time that Tottenham has been close to qualifying for the Champions League, formerly known as the European Cup. Young Boys are one of the most successful Swiss football clubs internationally, and reached the semifinals of the European Cup in the 1958-59 season and the quarterfinals of the Uefa Cup Winners Cup in 1988.
In the 2009/2010 season Tottenham finished fourth in the Premier League and Young Boys finished second in the Swiss Axpo Super League, thus qualifying for the qualifying stages of the Champions League.
Young Boys, or Young Boys Bern (YB), was founded on March 14, 1898. Since 2005 the team has played at the Stade de Suisse stadium in Bern (capacity 31,120).
The team have won 11 Swiss league championships and six Swiss Cups. It is currently managed by Vladimir Petkovic and is in seventh place in the Swiss league after six matches.
Tottenham Hotspur, or Spurs, was founded in 1882. The team plays at White Hart Lane stadium in north London (capacity 36,310)
The team have twice won the English league title, eight FA Cup finals, four League Cups and two Uefa Cups (1972 and 1984). It is currently managed by Harry Rednapp and is in seventh place in the Premier League after two matches (one draw, one win).
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