Monday, January 18

Sergen Yalcin’s absurd career: the best footballer nobody knows

Column by Fatih Demireli: Besiktas coach Sergen Yalcin: The greatest bon vivant in Turkish football

Sergen Yalcin is perhaps the best footballer Turkey has ever seen – but he does not have a world career. Just as great as the talent is his existence as a bon vivant. Not everyone believed that Yalcin will now work successfully as a Besiktas trainer.

Yes, where do you start telling the story? With what anecdote? With which episode?

Almost all stories about or by Sergen Yalcin deserve special appreciation. If one day he got the idea to write down his memoirs, he probably wouldn’t know where to start and where to end. In which. Taking the time to write a book … that’s not Sergen Yalcin. At some point he would probably get tired of talking and would just break off the project.

He didn’t even finish playing football. What he did best. Play soccer. Celebrate football. If you took to the streets in Turkey today and spontaneously asked a few people about the best footballer in the country, he would probably be mentioned most often.

Sergen wasn’t the most successful. He could have been, there is no doubt about that, but there was simply no time for that. The former playmaker still had a life to live that was far too beautiful to focus only on titles, goals and triumphs.

Yalcin: “I am never under the influence of alcohol in the car … whereby.”

When the Spaniard Guti had a small accident under the influence of alcohol in Istanbul years ago, people in Turkey were appalled. How can the Besiktas star act so irresponsibly. How can he, who played at Real Madrid for so many years and is now the superstar in Turkey, not live up to his role model function?

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Sergen Yalcin was a TV expert at the time and of course it was part of the fact that he too expressed dismay. “It can’t be that you sit in the car under the influence of alcohol. It’s not good for Guti that he got into this situation. As a footballer, I’ve also climbed a lot of steep slopes. I also enjoyed being outside, but I’m never under Influence of alcohol in the car … whereby. I would be lying now if I said that I hadn’t done that. ”

Then laughed at himself: “Well, I did it too, but I lived near the clubs.”

Yalcin comes to Galatasaray

In 2000, when he was left without a team due to a tricky contract situation (Sergen was part of a rich businessman’s club who wanted to make money with Sergen), he went on vacation. Keeping fit, fitness training, oh what. “I was at the beach when I got an offer from Galatasaray,” Sergen Yalcin said later.

He came to the training ground five days before the start of the season, tanned. Club coach Mircea Lucescu, a discipline fanatic, was angry. Yalcin recalls: “I had only just greeted him. When I left, he said to the others, ‘The way it looks, it won’t be playing for 2.5 months.’ But five days later I was in the starting line-up. “

During the international match against Germany, FC Bayern took notice

Lucescu, a master of training theory, a representative of the old school, couldn’t resist the talent. Like all the other coaches who were allowed to let him play. Joachim Löw, who enjoyed him as a playmaker at Fenerbahce for a year, said of Sergen: “He’s mastered the deadly pass, looks to the left and clears the team-mate on the right. Sergen is an outstanding technician and there is a high level of alert when it comes to corners and free kicks.”

At an international match between Germany and Turkey in the Munich Olympic Stadium in 1999, Sergen Yalcin played so brilliantly that even the few Germans in the stadium applauded. A game that should open the door to Europe for him. Actually.

“After that game, FC Bayern noticed me,” said Yalcin. “But then they did some research and passed on me.” He has to laugh again.

Sergen Yalcin, the boy from Besiktas

It’s sad that such a caliber didn’t make it to the top, even though it had what it takes. But Sergen Yalcin does not mourn this. He would probably have lost his interest in football in Munich, Milan or Madrid. He would not have been wrapped in cotton wool like in Turkey.

Besiktas’ former sports director Sinan Engin once said that the departure time of the team bus for the home games at the weekend had been postponed so that Sergen could still watch the horse races. He loved horse racing. “He just had to have his head free to be able to play well later.” He couldn’t have allowed himself to do that abroad. So why go and suffer?

Besiktas. This is great love. He came to the club as a young boy. Even the smallest jersey size was too big for the slender boy from a humble background. In times when there was no social media and no YouTube skills videos, everyone knew about him. There’s a really great talent coming. Everyone knew. And Sergen Yalcin hit like a bomb. He played like no other before him. And therefore he also had absolute fool freedom.

Yalcin: More bon vivant than footballer?

But the love for horses was already pronounced back then. So the club superiors put the leading players on the talented young man so that he does not concentrate on sports betting, but on training. Gökhan Keskin, then one of the captains, recalls: “We should take care of the boy. A few days later we were addicted.”

When there was something to be won, the young sergeant was there. And sometimes he even cleaned up properly. “I didn’t have a car back then,” says Sergen, recalling his early days as a professional: “There was a used Fiat Tempra on the club premises. I asked if I could have it. The board members said I could get one, when I meet on the weekend. “”

Actually, he was hurt. “But I really wanted the car and played. I made myself comfortable at the center line and waited for an opportunity to arise that I could score.” A little later the time had come. “I hit the ball so perfectly with my left hand. Dude, dream goal! I let myself be replaced while still cheering.” He got the car.

Sergen Yalcin: A folk hero in Turkey

Sergen Yalcin later made so much money that he could afford lots of new cars. Also because he not only stayed with Besiktas, but also played as one of only four Turkish footballers for Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor. It’s enough to only play for two of these clubs and you are forever hated, but somehow you couldn’t be angry with Sergen at Besiktas. When he came back years later, there were no angry protests. He was gone once, and now he’s back.

Perhaps because of his infinite talent for being forgiven. The talent he used to delight the minds of Besiktas, the workers’ club, over and over again. But also because they knew he was a big Besiktas fan.

“If we go somewhere and then get off the bus, no one screams the names of the players. They scream his name. He’s the star,” Kevin-Prince Boateng told Socrates magazine. The German-Ghanaian played for half a season under Sergen Yalcin at Besiktas and witnessed how strong the love between legend and club is.

Suddenly he is training his ex-club Besiktas

In fact, it’s so big that coach Sergen Yalcin is now doing what one would never have expected from footballer Sergen Yalcin. He exposes himself to stress voluntarily. The club is suffering from a horrific debt burden that makes Besiktas almost incapable of acting.

The series of years in which one lived in luxury. Spending money you didn’t even have. Borrowed even though there was no equivalent. Senol Günes, one of the greatest coaches in Turkish history, saw the misery coming and went to the association, where he became national coach. His successor was Abdullah Avci. Also a huge number in Turkish football. But even he failed because of the expectations.

The current squad is a little above average with benevolence. But everyone in the environment wants the greatest possible success. So should someone like Sergen Yalcin work under these circumstances?


He does it. And really good. It sounds amazing that he works as a trainer over at all. When he did a great job as a youth coach at Besiktas at the end of his career, they were happy that Besiktas will soon be raising his own coach. One like Galatasaray has with Fatih Terim.

Yalcin does what he wants

But it turned out differently because Yalcin lost interest in the job at some point. He went on television, he was a TV expert and a member of the jury for the Turkish filing of “Deutschland sucht den Superstar”. He made good money and had no obligations.

But the love for football was too great. He then worked as a coach at smaller clubs. Often even very successful, but entertaining, because he was bored or did not feel like answering the mistakes made by board members who could not scrape together any money to pay the players.

At Besiktas there was always the mind game to get Sergen Yalcin. But what if he doesn’t feel like it anymore? Does he just go then? He is just proving that all fears were in vain. The club’s financial situation is even more precarious than when he arrived in early 2020.

He is in no line with the board of directors – there are always arguments about the media. Recently it was said that he no longer feels like it and will resign. A duck. “When I was introduced here as a coach, there were 25,000 people in the stadium. 25,000! How can I avoid my responsibility? I’m not going.”

Perhaps one day he’ll get the taste for writing a book. Then he can tell all these stories again in detail. And many more who couldn’t find a place here. In which. Maybe that’s too strenuous after all.

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