After losing Jonathan Schmid to Freiburg, Augsburg entered the market for a new full-back, and they might well have hit the jackpot with Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner.
bundesliga.com explains why…
Position: Right full-back/wing-back
Country: Switzerland (105 caps, current captain)
If you are born in a rural Swiss village with more cows than kids to kick a ball about with, but you desperately want to play football, what do you do? Lichtsteiner faced that dilemma, but his father had the answer: he founded the club FC Adligenswil, where a seven-year-old Lichtsteiner had his wish of playing football granted. At the age of 12, he had outgrown his home-town club, or more precisely FC Luzern felt he was too good for village football and gave him a place in their academy.
Lichtsteiner spent four years in Lucerne before joining Grasshopper Club Zürich, where he realised he could become a professional. So too did former Cologne coach Marcel Koller, who gave him his senior debut, and the pair celebrated winning the Swiss Super League together in 2002/03. That, as it would later become clear, was the first of many trophies Lichtsteiner would get his hands on during a decorated career.
His next came in Italy. After three seasons with Lille, he moved to Lazio, where he won the Coppa Italia and Italian Supercoppa before arriving at Juventus in 2011. The Bianconeri had last won the title in 2003, but as they moved into their new Juventus Stadium home, Lichtsteiner arrived – together with a certain Andrea Pirlo – for the start of the most successful era in the Italian club's history. He won the Scudetto in each of his seven seasons in Turin, also winning a further four Coppa Italias and playing in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final.
That earned him the award of Switzerland's Footballer of the Year for 2015, a year in which he also helped the Nati qualify for EURO 2016, where he led them, as captain, to the last 16. He continues to wear the captain's armband for his country, with the last of his 105 caps coming in March 2019.
Plays a bit like: Dani Alves
Wearing their heart on their sleeves while owning the right-hand side of the field – that is what Lichtsteiner and former Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain full-back Dani Alves share in common. As a winger or even a left full-back, neither are guys you would like to meet – because you know you are in for a busy 90 minutes. Tough in the tackle and tireless, the pair regularly tread more ground than their teammates and provide support in attack and defence.
Did you know?
With his impressive haul of 17 trophies, Lichtsteiner is the most successful Swiss footballer ever at club level. After him, former Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is Switzerland's second most successful player with 15 titles to his name, including two Bundesliga Meisterschalen. Furthermore, no other foreign player has managed to win the Serie A title more times than Lichtsteiner's seven.
What they're saying
"Stephan brings huge experience and leadership to our squad. He’s a player with great quality with a very positive and determined attitude. Stephan will improve us on and off the pitch." – Arsenal manager Unai Emery.
"He's a hard-working player with enormous ability." – Marcel Koller, current coach of FC Basel and Lichtsteiner's coach at Grasshoppers.
"He's got an unbelievable wealth of experience thanks to his impressive career in Switzerland, France, Italy, England and in the Swiss national team. He'll put that to good use in our team, in addition to his footballing qualities." - Augsburg sporting director Stefan Reuter
"It happened only once in my career… Lichtsteiner and his agent wanted to talk to me: before he joined, he wanted to know about me. I said it doesn't work like that in Italy – it's the coach who wants to know the player before he signs him, but I have to say that he was right because he quite rightly wanted to know what position I would put him in, what type of training would be done and if he would have a chance to grow with me. I find this very professional." – former Lazio coach Delio Rossi, who signed Lichtsteiner.
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