Europa League quarter-final tie as they strive to reach the semi..."/> Europa League quarter-final tie as they strive to reach the semi..."/>

FC Basel, Christian Gross and Tottenham’s Swiss Connections


Tottenham Hotspur face Swiss opponents, Basel in the Europa League quarter-final tie as they strive to reach the semi-finals of a European tournament for the first time since winning the UEFA Cup in 1983-84. Former Spurs manager Christian Gross also managed Basel after leaving White Hart Lane, just one of a number of connections the club has with Switzerland.

We’ve Been There Before:

1973-74 UEFA Cup Tottenham v Grasshopper Zurich [Photo:]This is only the third occasion in all their European ties that Spurs have been drawn against a team from Switzerland. The previous meetings were in 1973-74 in the 1st Round of the UEFA Cup when Spurs played Grasshopper Zurich and against Young Boys of Berne in 2010-11 when they met in the Play-off Round for the Champions League.

In the 1973-74 UEFA Cup, the aggregate win was 9 – 2 over Grasshopper Zurich which suggests a very comfortable passage but this could not be further from the truth as Spurs endured a very difficult evening in Zurich for the first leg. In the end they recorded a 5 – 1 victory but the hero of the evening was goalkeeper, Pat Jennings.

The second game at White Hart Lane was much more comfortable – Mike England, Martin Peters (2) and an own goal ensured a 4 – 1 win to confirm Tottenham’s progress to the next round.

The more recent meeting in the Champions League in August 2010 was a dramatic affair. Tottenham found themselves three down in the first half in Berne and looked to be exiting the competition at the first stage. Fortunately they scored just before the interval and a second late in the game to rescue the situation and finished the job, winning 4 – 1 at White Hart Lane. Peter Crouch scored a hat-trick with Jermain Defoe scoring the other goal.

In the 1950s the arrival of floodlights allowed clubs to arrange matches against European clubs and in March, 1955 Spurs played FC Servette in a friendly at White Hart Lane. Spurs won 5 – 1 with the goals being scored by from Johnny Gavin (2), Johnny Brooks, Len Duquemin and Sid McClellan.

Team: Reynolds; Baker, Henry; Blanchflower, King, Marchi (Woods); Gavin, Brooks, Duquemin, McClellan, Robb.

They Like Him but We’re Not So Sure

Christian Gross arrives at White Hart Lane. [Photo: Gross spent ten months as manger of Tottenham and 10 years managing Basel. Born in Zurich, he was appointed Spurs manager by Alan Sugar as the replacement for Gerry Francis.

His time at White Hart Lane was not a success and is memorable only for how poor it was and the London Underground ticket he waved at his first press conference.

Appointed in November, 1997 he was sacked the following September, three matches into the new season. His time at Spurs started and finished with wins at Everton and a rare highlight was a 6 – 2 at Wimbledon in May, 1998 which helped Spurs avoid relegation.

On leaving Tottenham he was appointed manager at Basel and enjoyed considerable success, taking his team to 4 League titles and 4 Swiss Cup successes. In 2008 he was named as the Super League Coach of the Year. In 2002-03 Gross took Basel to the 2nd Group stages of the Champions League, having finished above Liverpool in the 1st Group stage. They missed out on qualification for the knock-out stages on goal difference having defeated Juventus in their home game and earning a draw at Old Trafford.

Players from Switzerland:

Spurs have had two Swiss international players on their books in recent years.

Ramon Vega signed from Cagliari in Italy and made 64 appearances for Spurs. He was a member of the Worthington Cup winning team in 1999 which defeated Leicester City 1 – 0. He scored 7 goals in his four years at White Hart Lane. He went to Celtic on loan and then signed for Watford after being released by Tottenham. Vega played for Switzerland in 23 internationals with 1 goal.

Reto Ziegler was a young player who made 23 League appearances, scoring once, under Martin Jol. On leaving Spurs, he spent four season with Sampdoria and then joined Juventus on a free transfer in 2011 but has been out on loan since signing for the Italian club. He is currently in a second loan period with Fenerbahce and has been in their team which has reached the Europa League quarter-finals and play Lazio on Thursday. Ziegler has played in 31 full internationals and scored 1 goal.

They Played in Switzerland

Martin Chivers [Photo:]Martin Chivers played a very significant part in Tottenham’s UEFA Cup success in 1971-72 but on leaving Spurs in July, 1976 he signed for FC Servette. He spent two seasons in Switzerland where he made 64 League appearances and scored 36 goals before returning to England to play for Norwich City.

In his first season Servette won the League Cup and the following year they won the Swiss Cup defeating Grasshoppers Zurich 1 – 0 in a replay after a 2 – 2 draw. The Grasshoppers team included a player called, Christian Gross. Chivers enjoyed his time in Switzerland but returned as he says in his book, Big Chiv, as he didn’t want to be forgotten in England where he had hoped to get into coaching.

Other former Tottenham players with Swiss connections include Alan Brazil and Thimothee Atouba who both played in the Swiss League and two players from Tottenham’s distant past – Percy Humphreys and Bert Smith.

Humphreys coached in Switzerland having played for Spurs in their early days in the Football League, his goals helping them avoid relegation in 1909-10 at the end of their first season in the 1st Division. After lengthy service at Tottenham when he was a member of the successful team in the early 1920s which won the 2nd Division title and FA Cup, Smith went to be player/coach with Young Boys Berne.

Tottenham know from past experience that Swiss opponents can prove difficult opponents. Although Spurs progressed on both previous occasions, they had a very uncomfortable time in the away matches in Switzerland. Basel are the first Swiss club to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League and will be wanting to make an impression. Tottenham will have to be wary of taking them lightly just because they’re not a ‘big-name’ club like Lyon and Inter Milan with a long history of success in European football. Spurs will need to be positive to give themselves an advantage ahead of next week’s return game.