FRISCO - A veteran of 145 games in Serie A, 34 in the Premier League and trips to two World Cups under his belt, FC Dallas’ newest signing, Reto Ziegler, brings world-class experience to the club in a position on the field where he’ll be surrounded by youth.
“FC Dallas came to see me in Luzern and they showed a big interest [from the start],” Ziegler said by phone this week from his native Switzerland. “It's a team in Dallas with big ambitions and I am a player with ambition, so I think it fits really well.”
“He's a cementer. We expect a lot of leadership out of the back with him and Matt [Hedges],” Technical Director Fernando Clavijo said of the defender who speaks four languages. “He has played against the best players in the world. I'm excited what he's not only going to bring with his play, but also helping the younger players around him.”
Ziegler spent the first 10 years of his career as a left back, but embarked on a new challenge in the middle three years ago in Switzerland. It’s a position, he says, where he has a lot of fun, but also a lot of success, being named the Swiss Super League’s top center back last year. In the last two and a half seasons, the 31-year-old started 64 games, while only subbing out of matches on three occasions.
“It will be a really beautiful experience for me. It's a big challenge in my career,” he said of moving to the U.S. “I like to play from behind with good passes, I think I can read the game really well from behind and set pieces are one of my strengths - not only headers, but free kicks and penalty kicks. In the last two years, I've scored 11 goals on set pieces.”
Having only spent a brief time in the U.S. during the 2011 preseason with Juventus, he relied on a close friend - who will now be a rival - for advice.
“I've heard only good things about the United States and especially about Texas. A good friend of mine, Philipe Senderos, he plays in Houston for the Dynamo,” Ziegler said of his fellow countryman. “I spoke a bit with him and my wife and I can't wait to come over…I think the league has made a big step [in recent years] and they have a lot of quality players, so it's really exciting for us.”