Albian Ajeti has revealed that his family had to flee to Switzerland from the war-torn Kosovo – and the debt of gratitude he owes FC Basel.
With Celtic set to complete the £5 million signing, from West Ham.
An estimated 140,000 lives were lost in the Balkans – which his family fled from.
Ajteti said: “My family had to move to Switzerland, before the Kosovo War and there I went to school, to the Basel Academy and started my football.
“It was because it was not possible to live in Kosovo any more. If you imagine how hard it was during the war, it was impossible to stay in our own country, so that’s why people moved to Switzerland and many different countries.
“For me, it was quite easy to grow up in Switzerland. I think it was more difficult for my parents, as they came at an age when it was not so easy to learn new things. I came with my brothers when we were really, really young, so it was quite easy to grow up with the schooling, the language and the football, so it wasn’t that difficult for me.
“Basel liked to work with Kosovar Albanian players and they’ve had a lot of success with them, as they have also had with Egyptian players. If you see other players go the same way, it gives you confidence that it is possible.
“I think my time in Basel was very good as I did my whole Academy there and I got a lot of trust from the club.
“They are the biggest club in Switzerland and they have one of the best academies in Europe. They have a very good football school, they care a lot about their players and they want to get you ready to be professional.
“They start very young with that stuff and, at the end, you just have to have a bit of luck and be ready if you get the chance.
“That’s what makes the club so special. They work with players of a lot of different nationalities and my time in Basel was like being in a second family. It was really good.”
In his decision to play for Switzerland instead of Kosovo or Albania, he explained: “Where I come from is very important to us as a family. You don’t forget the history and what happened to us.
“There are still some points which you can never forget as a family, and I think that’s why my older brother decided to play for Albania. It makes him proud to play for that country but for me, it was not a problem to play for Switzerland.
“With a national team like Switzerland, we grew up together a lot. We had good times and bad times as well, but what makes Switzerland so special and so strong as a team is that we work with a lot of different nationalities.
“We have four or five players from Kosovo, we have two from Bosnia, players from Cameroon, and I think that’s what gives us such a strong mentality.
“At the end, it’s just important that we work together for each other on the field.”