Switzerland Under-17 and FC Basel 1893 striker Albian Ajeti speaks to UEFA.com about learning the ropes from Marco Streller, Alexander Frei and Valentin Stocker.
Article top media content
Having already earned his first-team stripes for FC Basel 1893, Switzerland Under-17 striker Albian Ajeti spoke to UEFA.com about how he has come of age at the Swiss club.
Ajeti has yet to get off the mark at the UEFA European U17 Championship in Malta, but the forward who steered in five goals in qualifying for the final tournament believes it will only be a matter of time before the ball starts hitting the back of the net again. He has learnt from some of Switzerland's finest after all.
"Marco Streller is my biggest role model at Basel," said Ajeti, who is one of three brothers on the books of the Swiss Super League leaders. "I can really learn a huge amount from him. He gives me tips in every training session and he's always there for me if I have any questions."
Streller, 32, who has scored 18 times in 32 UEFA Europa League appearances and netted five in the UEFA Champions League, has been honing Ajeti's eye for goal. "If maybe I do something wrong in training, he never tells me I've done it wrong, he always tells me ways I could do it better because he knows what I can do," said the youngster, who now trains regularly with Basel's senior squad. "He helps me in every phase of training and in games.
"[Valentin] Stocker's the same. They take the younger players under their wings. I have a great relationship with Stocker and Streller. [Alexander Frei] was also one who would look out for the younger players and tell you: 'You have time, just train hard and the rest will come.'"
That wisdom has served Ajeti well. Still without a goal at the finals, he is not letting that affect him. "I know what I can do and that I can score goals," he said. "I know that we can score goals too, which is important. It doesn't matter who scores [against Scotland on Thursday]; the important thing is that we win and reach the semi-finals and then the goals will come. We believe in ourselves. We still believe it's possible to go through."
After a 1-1 draw with Germany in their opening Group B fixture and a 1-0 defeat by Portugal, Yves Débonnaire's youngsters need to beat Scotland at the Hibernians Stadium on Thursday to stand any chance of qualifying for the last four. That remains the objective for a side who have seen off several heavyweights on their way to Malta.
"We've got a great atmosphere in the camp, ever since the very first qualifying round in Denmark, where we could really feel that we had a lot going for us," Ajeti said. "You don't knock out strong opponents like Spain, Austria, Denmark and Russia by accident, so I think we are a force to be reckoned with."