Swiss confectionery is renowned around the world for its quality and finesse, not for manufacturing delicious footballing talent.
But in the case of Xherdan Shaqiri, the mold was broken.
A star of the 2014 World Cup, where he was one of just two players to score a hat-trick, the Inter Milan wideman knows the taste of success better than most.
“When I played for the Basel youth team, I also worked in a sweet shop,” the 23-year-old told CNN.
“I always had the dream to play football but when I was young, my father and mother told me I must learn something. It was right at the beginning (of my career) when I started and worked.
“I was really proud to work there for two years because I know how it is to work normally, so I know real life — and the life that I have now.”
The contrast between the two is enormous, with Shaqiri now earning more in a week than most confectioners do in a year.
But there’s another, and fundamentally more serious, way in which he can appreciate the nature of his current existence.
He was born to Kosovar Albanian parents in 1991 in Giljan, a city that is now part of Kosovo but was then contained within the Yugoslav Republic.
Eight years later, Serb forces controlled by Slobodan Milosevic launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Kosovar Albanians — resulting in at least 10,000 deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands.
Thankfully for Shaqiri, his parents’ smart thinking meant he was far from the atrocities as Yugoslavia slid into civil war, since his family had moved to Switzerland the year after his birth.
The footballer is eternally grateful to his adopted nation for providing his family (he has three siblings) with a safe environment in which to grow up, and he praises his fellow schoolchildren for the ease of his integration into Swiss society.
His upbringing has resulted in a multi-faceted linguistic and cultural approach to life, which is perhaps best encapsulated by Shaqiri having previously stitched the flags of Switzerland, Albania and Kosovo into his boots.
“I was born in Kosovo, my parents are from Kosovo but I [grew up] in Switzerland,” he said.
“I live the Swiss mentality but the Kosovo mentality too because when I go home, I speak Albanian. I live both mentalities so for me, it’s not a big difference.”
Save for one.
“Time is the big difference. Swiss guys are always exactly on time, but Albanians are not like this,” he jokes.
Read complete article here: