National team head coach Fatih Terim paints grim picture of Turkish football

National team head coach Fatih Terim paints grim picture of Turkish football

National team head coach Fatih Terim paints grim picture of Turkish football

Fatih Terim says Turkish football is in a very bad state, adding that the system would even make a promising player with the skills of a young Lionel Messi vanish.

Turkish national team coach Fatih Terim painted a grim picture of football in the country in a press conference on Jan. 7, while also outlining future moves to revamp Turkish football.

“Football in this country is, unfortunately, not moving in the right direction and we can observe this in all areas,” the experienced coach, who is responsible for all levels of the national team, said in Istanbul.

“See me as a man who dedicated his life to football,” Terim said, adding that Turkey spends a lot of money on football but fails to get good results in the international arena, both on the pitch and in terms of developing young players.

There are 127 professional clubs in the country, but only half of the 18 teams in the top Spor Toto Super League have licenses to play in UEFA competitions. Turkey also has more than 600 dispute files with FIFA, Terim said, mockingly adding that “We have surpassed Macedonia and Bulgaria. Good for us!”

There are some third or fourth-tier teams that are still being managed from coffee houses and are not even contactable as they do not have email addresses or fax machines, he complained.

“There are teams that put on their kits at coffee houses and have showers at public baths because they don’t have facilities,” Terim said.

The players of successful national teams, which are largely Turkey’s rivals, come from the top five leagues in Europe, the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain, he also noted, adding that only one Turkish player, Arda Turan of Atletico Madrid, currently plies his trade in these competitions.

Turkish coaches even hesitate to participate in meetings where their leading colleagues from around the world are invited for consultation, and prefer to smoke outside the meeting halls, Terim said.

“To beat high-quality rivals, you have to run more than them,” he also added, complaining of the poor training standards at clubs.

Children in rival countries begin playing the sport at the age of five, not at 10 like in Turkey, he said, adding "a person needs to play at least 10,000 hours of football to be an elite player."

"If [Lionel] Messi had spent his childhood in Turkey, we would first call him weak. Then he would be torn apart by his rivals, most of whom are older than their listed ages and bigger too. We would call him a dwarf, as he wouldn’t achieve much. We would make fun of him or the media and his kin would praise him to the skies, and he would be on TV every now and then along with his parents or even the shopkeeper in his neighborhood. Then he would not be capable of carrying such a load; he would demoralize and vanish," Terim said.

The coach also claimed that a new regulation to cut down the number of fourth-tier professional leagues was on the way.

Earlier this week, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) changed the rules on the foreign player quota for Spor Toto Super League clubs, allowing them to field 11 foreign players beginning next season.