Settling down to watch Switzerland v Albania on Saturday afternoon, I was struck by a strange feeling. Not abject boredom, as one might expect of such a fixture, but a sense of mourning for what might have been. There, on the pitch next to Arsenal's new £32 million midfield dynamo, looking every bit as good a player, stood the Ghost of Christmas Past. Our parting gift from Sam Allardyce, a symbol of hope from a happier time - hope which evaporated and turned to dust.
Blerim Dzemaili. Even hearing the name conjures up memories of happier days. Brings a smile to my face. I don't recall much fanfare around his signing at the time, but I've always been struck by the symbolism of it. His signing seemed to herald a change in policy, a progressive step to build upon the solid foundation Big Sam built for us. Moving away from paying big wages to ageing superstars to a more sustainable future of signing talented youngsters and building value.
That was what really excited me at the time – it was exactly the type of signing you would make on Champ Manager.
The future seemed so bright. When we signed Blerim in 2007, we were signing someone surely destined for greatness. Club captain with over 100 appearances in the Swiss top flight before the age of 20. Already a full international (although in those days Phillipe Senderos was the first name on their team-sheet). A dynamic, box-to-box, tough-tackling midfielder.
And then he ruptured his Cruciate Ligament.
In the end, he made one substitute appearance in the FA Cup and went off on loan to Torino to regain fitness. Since then he's made a good career for himself in Serie A and Turkey, and regained his place in the Swiss national side. Good on you, Blerim lad.
So each time I hear his name at this European Championship, I'll be pleased for the lad – but always tinged with regret at what might have been. I fondly imagine, in a parallel universe, how he went on to become the heart of our midfield engine room, before forming a great partnership with Stuart Holden and earning a big-money move to Juventus.
Maybe we'd even have remained financially solvent.
Go on Blerim, my son. Have a blast. Enjoy France.
Show us what might have been – what could be going on in the other leg of the trousers of time.