Turkey’s own footballer pool ‘should be enough’

Turkey’s own footballer pool ‘should be enough’

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Turkey’s own footballer pool ‘should be enough’

Nuri Şahin, who plays for Turkish national team, is a German player, according to Gül Keskinler. AFP photo

Turkey should not need to source players from abroad when such a high proportion of its population is young, according to Gül Keskinler, the integration commissioner of the German Football Association (DFB).

Commenting on popular criticism toward Turkish-origin players in the national teams of European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, Keskinler said yesterday that this was “a very wrong” way of thinking.

“Those youth are born in the system [of those countries]. They are brought up there,” Keskinler said on the sidelines of the International Sports Summit on March 4 in Istanbul. “Turkey should not feel the need for athletes from Europe since it has such a young population. The real richness is the youth here. There are talented kids among them for sure,” she said.

The commissioner said there were sports schools and academies in every corner in Germany, noting that Turkey could also possess these.

Keskinler also said she considered Nuri Şahin, a Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder who is also a part of the Turkish squad, as a German footballer.

Tough competition

“Nuri Şahin picked the Turkish national team since there were a lot of competitors in the German team. There are many, many young people competing for his position. But according to me, he is a German footballer,” she said.

Germany-born Nuri, 24, is playing at Borussia Dortmund on loan from Real Madrid. He began his career at the German champions, spending six years there – including a year-long loan at Feyenoord – before signing for Real Madrid in 2011. In August 2012 he agreed to a one-year loan deal with Liverpool, but this was terminated earlier this year.

Also responding to a question on a reported rivalry between the Turkish and German football federations, Keskinler said such a competition had come to an end and that young players were making up their minds based on an evaluation of their future chances.

Mesut Özil, another star of Turkish origin, made the right decision by opting to play internationally for Germany, she said. “If Mesut had decided to play for the Turkish national team, he would not have been able to play at Real Madrid. He became a world-renowned player with his performance in South Africa,” she said, referring to the FIFA 2010 World Cup in which Mesut starred for the semi-finalist Germans. “And this was a [good] example for Turkish kids.”

Mesut gained international attention during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was nominated for the Golden Ball Award. Following his breakout performance at the World Cup, he transferred from Werder Bremen to Real Madrid in August 2010.

“This is the largest [example of] integration until today. I know Mesut Özil. He was very young. Mesut has achieved an integration that could not be achieved in the last 50 years,” Keskinler said.

'I hope that Galatasaray beats Schalke': 

ISTANBUL – Anatoila News Agency

Gül Keskinler, the integration commissioner of the German Football Association (DFB), said she would be very happy if Galatasaray, Turkey’s sole team in the Champions League, beat Schalke 04 in an away game on March 12. “I would like Galatasaray to beat Schalke,” Keskinler said, adding that the DFB was working on improving the situations of migrant clubs in the county. “Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, all [Turkish] teams are raising the quality of Turkish football step by step,” she said.

Keskinler also said she partly supported Turkey in matches played against Germany. “When Germany plays against Turkey, I always have Turkey on one of my sides. It’s in my heart. But Germany is in my brain. As a German citizen, as someone working in that institution, I have to show that I belong there,” she said.