Dundee United number one Benjamin Siegrist has been urged not to give up on his dream of playing for his country despite Switzerland boasting a wealth of goalkeeping talent.
Siegrist has arguably been the top performing keeper in the Scottish Premiership this season and is rightly regarded as one of the Tangerines’ prize assets.
Tannadice goalkeeping coach Neil Alexander, who was appointed just a day after Siegrist signed for the Tangerines in June 2018, revealed he had been asked to rule the rule over the big man before United made their move for him.
He has watched him improve “10-fold” since then and hopes Siegrist won’t be disheartened by the quality of the keepers ahead of him in the international queue.
The United shot-stopper has represented Switzerland at every age from the under-17s, with whom he won that level’s World Cup, to their under-21 side.
He was also in their Olympic squad for the 2012 London Games.
Taking that extra step could be tough, though.
Swiss keepers pepper the German Bundesliga, with their current national number one Yann Sommer keeping goal for Borussia Monchengladbach.
Borussia Dortmund boast Swiss pair Roman Burki and Martin Hitz, while Yvon Mvogo is on loan at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven from RB Leipzig.
Elsewhere, Jonas Omlin is in France with Montpellier and there is Swiss-based David von Ballmoos at BSC Young Boys.
It is a tough ask but Siegrist has been told his day will come eventually.
Alexander, speaking to DUTV, said: “I definitely think he has a chance but I also feel he is an unfortunate position because Switzerland are doing not too badly for goalkeepers.
“For example, there are four or five with Bundesliga clubs.
“They are maybe ahead of Ben but I do know they (the Swiss) are aware of him and tracking his progress.
“Hopefully, one day he will get (called up) because he is only going to get better. When it happens, it will have been very much deserved.”
Alexander added: “He has improved 10-fold from when he came into United.
“It has been great for me to have been part of his development.”
Alexander revealed he had a significant role to play in Siegrist’s recruitment from Vaduz, despite having not yet joined the Tangerines himself.
He explained: “Before I came in I was sent a lot of clips and footage of Benjamin.
“They (United) wanted my opinion of him before they signed him.
“What I saw, I liked. He just lacked first-team experience and I felt once he got that he would get better and better.
“Ben ticks every box for a goalkeeper. He has a great presence, is a loud talker, kicks well and comes off his line.
“It was a no-brainer for me.”
Alexander himself is loving working with Siegrist, Deniz and young Jack Newman.
He has also been given renewed impetus in his role by the arrival of United boss Micky Mellon.
Alexander said: “The new manager has come in and been a breath of fresh air.
“He has been brilliant for me.
“He has given me more of a voice in the dressing room and among the coaches – it’s great.
“He bounces a lot of ideas off me.
“I feel like I have a new lease of life working with him, feel more important and valued, which is fantastic.
“I am really loving it at the moment.”