Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Passionless England; London-Born Star Says His Galatasaray Team-Mates Have More Desire Than Sven's Men

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Passionless England; London-Born Star Says His Galatasaray Team-Mates Have More Desire Than Sven's Men

Article excerpt


THE only English-born footballer playing in Turkey doubts if Sven-Goran Eriksson's side have the passion and desire to avoid defeat in Istanbul. Galatasaray's Murat Erdogan, who grew up in north London and started his career on Hackney-Marshes, has observed close up just how pumped up Turkey's players are for Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifier.

Four of his team-mates have been included in Senol Gunes's squad and have been talking about nothing else for weeks.

In an exclusive interview with Standard Sport, Murat said: "The Turkey players are really up for it, they won't accept anything less than a win.

"Hasan Sas, Hakan Sukur, Bulent Korkmaz and Ergun Penbe play with me at Galatasaray and it's all they have been talking about in the dressing room for the last month.

"It will be a physical game. England will have their work cut out. The only way they are going to win is if they want to win more than Turkey.

"Turkey really, really want to win, but I am not sure about England. It's a question of who wants it the most and at the moment I feel it is Turkey.

"The Turkish fans expect it. And the players - and I know 90 per cent of them - feel it has to be won."

Tempers boiled over on the pitch as well as in the stands when the teams met at the Stadium of Light in April.

There were angry confrontations between the players during the game and Turkish defender Alpay was also involved in a tunnel bust-up after the final whistle.

Murat reckons a few scores will be settled on Saturday, adding: "There is going to be a lot of aggression among the players. They were badmouthing each other in Sunderland and that's going to continue. The Turkish team are not going to forget that. I don't think there will be anything ungentlemanly but there will be plenty of talk."

The 27-year-old midfielder believes Turkey have enough quality to get the win they need for automatic qualification from Group Seven, but much will hinge on Internazionale midfielder Emre Belozoglu.

He said: "Emre will be the key man.

When he plays well, he can lift the whole team. He's a very good player.

Nihat Kahveci is another one to watch, he is very fast."

Murat's intimate knowledge of England's opponents stems from five seasons in the Turkish Super League.

He signed for the country's most successful club, Galatasaray, last year marking the culmination of an incredible journey which has taken him from a Hackney building site to the verge of the Champions League.

Born in Hackney and growing up in a Turkish family, Murat was a gifted young player but thought his chances of turning professional had gone when he rejected a trial with Arsenal because his parents believed he should continue with his education.

After leaving Holloway Boys School, he worked for a building firm which demolished and rebuilt houses in rundown parts of Hackney. He continued to play amateur football for Fisher Athletic on Saturdays and Bogazici in a London-based Turkish league on Sundays. …

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