That’s fine with the Albanian-Swiss striker, whose $7.5million price tag shattered the club’s record transfer fee. He’s had his eye on MLS for a while, understands what’s expected and is aware of the Fire’s chronic underperformance that dates back quite some time. And he is ready to endure whatever that entails.
“Some players came [to MLS] very late,” Shaqiri, 30, told MLSsoccer.com in a recent one-on-one chat. “Me, I am in a good age and in the prime of life. So I’m really looking forward to playing here, and giving my experience to this club, to these players, and trying to be successful. As we know, the club haven’t performed very well in recent seasons. So my goal is to bring glory back and move forward with this club and yes, to take a new path.
There’s a back-to-the-future quality to its recruitment, a nod to the Eastern European elements of the city’s working-class character and the fire crews that reflected it in their glory days, starring Peter Nowak and Lubos Kubik. Their trophy case is highlighted by an MLS-US Open Cup double in 1998, their expansion year, plus a Supporters’ Shield in 2003.
Shaqiri was just a toddler when the bloody civil war in the former Yugoslavia drove his family from their home in Kosovo, forcing his parents to rebuild their lives in a new country, much like the experiences of many residents of Chicago’s immigrant communities.
“Of course I often think about that, where I come from, where I am and what I have achieved,” said Shaqiri, who remains proud of his heritage while proudly representing Switzerland. “But I’m a forward-looking guy, and I’m hungry for success and titles. So my big dream is for this club to win a trophy and that’s my goal – and also to bring people in the stadium in Chicago, because as you know, basketball, football, baseball, ice hockey are ahead of football right now and I want – and we want – to change that. of success.