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Exclusive: Pirmin Schwegler open to Western Sydney Wanderers stay

Pirmin Schwegler has delayed talks over his future at Western Sydney Wanderers, but admits he is loving his time at Bankwest Stadium.

The former Switzerland international has performed admirably in defensive midfield for the Wanderers this season, starting all but one of nineteen A-League matches.

Talks will inevitably arise soon over Schwegler's future, with his contract due to expire in June.

After celebrating his 33rd birthday this week, Schwegler has revealed that while talks have been initiated, he wants to remain completely focused on helping Western Sydney finish in the top-six.

"Yeah we speak about that. They offer me something," he told Tribal Football in an exclusive interview.

"But I said before this year I want to really enjoy this year and then see after the season. We are actually in an important time and we can reach the play-offs still, so my focus is on that.

"And then I will make a decision after the season."

He added: "I didn't expect a lot because it was completely new for me. I didn't know a lot about this competition and this league but am absolutely enjoying it.

"Of course, it's a bit different to Europe, but I'm very excited still. And I like to play for the Wanderers especially because you feel this passion in the club, and our fans are the best in the league. It's nice to play at home."

It has been a turbulent debut campaign for Schwegler, who signed with the club as a free agent from Hannover in May 2019.

A player with over 250 appearances in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim and Hannover, as well as 14 caps for Switzerland, Schwegler was considered a major offseason coup for Markus Babbel.

However, things changed dramatically at the club after a horror start to the 2019/20 season. Marquee signing Alexander Meier, who Schwegler helped recruit, left the Wanderers by mutual consent in January. And three days later, after a loss to Perth Glory, Babbel was sacked as manager.

Schwegler, while disappointed, understood there needed to be a change following just four wins from the opening fourteen league games.

"Unfortunately it's part of the game. We know to perform week by week and unfortunately it was not what the club or some people expected.

"Of course it's sad for them, but I have the same experience in Germany. This is unfortunately part of the business and I always look forward. We have done well after the change on the pitch and JP (Jean-Paul de Marigny) does a great job, and hopefully we can reach the play-offs."

Western Sydney were quick to promote Babbel's assistant Jean-Paul de Marigny to the top job, and the former Marconi Stallions star has turned results around.

Before Friday's loss to Brisbane, the Wanderers went unbeaten in four games, including a 1-0 victory over local rivals Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium.

Marigny has been coaching in Australian football since 2003, experience which Schwegler believes is benefitting the team.

"The structure and the thing about football is the same as with Markus.

"But I think and see and feel that JP knows especially Australian football and he can bring a lot to the boys. [Against Sydney] we did well and this must be always [the way]."

Watching Schwegler this season, it is obvious he enjoys the grittier and unheralded aspects of football, as his eight yellow cards for the season can attest. But what has stood out for Western Sydney is Schwegler's innate leadership skills, which could possibly find its roots in his turbulent childhood.

At 16-months-old he was diagnosed with leukaemia and given only a 10 per cent chance of surviving, defying the odds thanks to bouts of chemotherapy. Schwegler only learnt about his brush with death around the age of 15, and instantly resolved to make the most of his life.

Schwegler has since established his own Childhood Cancer Foundation at the same hospital that saved his life, but it is not only outside football where Schwegler is looking to help the next generation.

"I try to teach [the young players] a lot. To show them how they have to work to come to a good level and I have to say they listen. It's nice to see their eyes big when I speak about European football, so I can see they have dreams.

"They do a lot. I had this success in Europe, so I want to show how it can be and help them first."

Playing finals football is completely foreign for the Bundesliga veteran, a fact he acknowledges with laughter. And with a win over Melbourne City at AAMI Park this weekend, the Wanderers' will seriously boost their play-off credentials.

"I would say it's all about our mentality. The league is so competitive and very tight.

"You can't win every game but you can't lose each game. So it's all about the mentality and the team spirit, this will decide if we make the play-offs or not."

Follow Andrew Maclean on Twitter: @andrewmaclean30

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Andrew Maclean
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