As a young boy, my father, Julian, used to take me to a lot of Servette games. I was quite small so I don’t remember too much about particular matches, but I do remember the atmosphere and excitement of going to the stadium as a fan – that was always something that stood out.
Servette was my local side and the team that my family followed. Like most children, I tended to follow who my father did and he was also a big Real Madrid fan as a result of his Spanish roots. I remember players like Fernando Hierro, Ivan Zamorano, Michael Laudrup, Fernando Redondo and Luis Milla. That was a great generation of players.
When watching Real Madrid, Fernando Hierro was always my favourite. He was a great leader and could play with a lot of grace, even though he was a tough central defender. He was also really good in the centre of midfield, the captain of Spain and Real Madrid and had a fantastic range of passing.
I don’t remember which ones they were in particular but always liked to wear ones by Nike. I was really excited when I got my first pair.
Like most defenders in the game, I didn’t actually start out as a centre-back and only moved to that position when I was about 15. Initially I played as a striker or on the right wing.
Servette was my first proper club, and as it was a team I followed from a young age, it was a great honour to break through there having worked my way up through the youth ranks.
Lucien Favre was the man that gave me my chance at Servette. He represented Switzerland and Servette during his playing days and worked his way up in Swiss football as a coach. He’s very attack-minded and likes his teams to play good football – he’s also known for giving young players an opportunity.
I made my debut as a 16-year-old for Servette in a game against Grasshoppers. It was a big game to make my first senior appearance as it was a match between two of Switzerland’s big clubs.
That came against Sunderland in April 2011 at the Stadium of Light. We won 3-0 with Simon Davies getting two and Gael Kakuta scoring the other. I had to wait a little while before making my debut as a result of injury.
I made my senior debut for my country in March 2005 in a 0-0 draw with France in Paris. It was a World Cup Qualifier at the Stade de France and it was an amazing experience for me personally. Pascal Zuberbühler was in goal for us that night, too.
It wasn’t long after I made my debut for Servette, I would have been about 17 at the time. It came in a game against Lucerne, I met a corner with a powerful header.