Turkish football mourns death of master pundit Doğan Koloğlu

Turkish football mourns death of master pundit Doğan Koloğlu

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish football mourns death of master pundit Doğan Koloğlu

Turkish sports pundit, former Galatasaray player and Coach Doğan Koloğlu. Hürriyet photo

It is hard to find words to do justice for a writer whose legacy went beyond fathomable. Turkish sports pundit, former Galatasaray player and Coach Doğan Koloğlu, who died in Istanbul on Nov. 13, falls into that rare club. He was 86. 

“We lost one of the connoisseurs of the Turkish press,” the Turkish Sports Writers Association (TSYD) said in a statement released on the death of its former chief. “Great is our sorrow.”
Of all the things he has done for Turkish football writing, Koloğlu, who worked at Hürriyet, Milliyet, Akşam and Sabah, should be credited for something most pundits could only dream about: He changed the way the game was played in Turkey. The forward-thinking man he was, Koloğlu was the first man to coin the term “attacking football” in Turkey, urging coaches to embark on a more adventurous display. At that time, in the 1970s, Turkey was still on the wrong side of the line between obscurity and mediocrity, and for a team to take on an attacking mentality against a European opponent was unthinkable. The change did not happen overnight; actually, it took more than a decade for the gaffers to change their mentality. 

“Fatih Terim came to me one day and said, ‘They don’t understand what you say, but one day we are going to prevail and will play like that,’” Koloğlu would tell the daily Radikal in a 2002 interview. 

It was only in the late 1980s that Mustafa Denizli, a Jupp Derwall protégé, started pitching Galatasaray and the Turkish national team with a braver formation. Denizli’s Turkey was on the wrong end of an 8-0 defeat against England in 1987, but a few years later, he would lead Galatasaray to a historic semifinal appearance in the Champion Clubs’ Cup. Denizli would be dubbed as the one who practiced what Koloğlu had been preaching for over a decade. 

Sports writer Ali Ece likened Koloğlu and fellow late writer İslam Çupi as the equivalents of “the Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre of sports writing” in his obituary. He highlighted Koloğlu was a former player like Camus as well. Koloğlu’s dear friend and disciple Ahmet Çakır has always written that his playing and coaching days could even surpass his writing legacy, but few could witness it since it came during the prehistoric era of televised football. 

His son, musician and television pundit Sina Koloğlu, wrote in Milliyet, “his philosophical look at football and the knack for finding details left a trace on readers,” perfectly encapsulating the writer’s legacy.
This Hürriyet Daily News writer will be forever grateful to Koloğlu for waking him up to that there is more than meets the eye in football and the game is even more beautiful by tracing the tiny little details engraved in it. I had the chance to meet him in person a few years ago and was even more impressed with his humbleness, kindness and most of it all, tireless researching for new information, even at his 80s. 

He will be sorely missed.