Nuri Sahin went from professional to coach overnight. Since then he has been flying through the Turkish Süper Lig with his club Antalyaspor and has been inspiring with refreshing attacking football. It would only be logical if the charismatic coach would eventually end up back at his heart club.
Maybe it’s his smile, his engaging manner. Nuri Sahin is surrounded by an aura of warmth. He chooses his words carefully, respectfully and diplomatically, without digressing into meaningless words. So it’s hardly surprising that the long-time Borussia Dortmund professional is loved by BVB fans. But for the past two years, Sahin has been trying to win the affection of Turkish fans. First on, now off the pitch.
In his parents’ home country, Sahin ended his career after a mixed spell at SV Werder Bremen. The midfield director, who grew up in Meinerzhagen in Sauerland, laced his shoes for Antalyaspor from summer 2020. Sahin was immediately a regular player. In the end the class was held, goal achieved. He also went into the current season as a professional. At 33, he is already old, but not yet ready for retirement. And yet he was sent into early footballer retirement overnight, because in October 2021 he succeeded Ersun Yanal as coach at Antalyaspor. And has since caused a stir in the Mediterranean city.
“The club parted ways with our former coach on Friday, and my phone rang on Sunday. President Aziz Cetin and sporting director Aytac Altay got on the line and started asking me, ‘How do you feel about the situation? What do you think is necessary now?’ I described my thoughts very openly and honestly,” reports Sahin im Kicker-Interview. Apparently the thoughts were enlightening for Altay as well, in any case Sahin was sitting on the Antalyaspor train chair only a short time later.
And formed a team from the former relegation candidate Sahin, which is currently just four points behind a Europa Conference League place. The former Turkey international prescribed a new style of play for his team. Characteristics: Aggressiveness, high defending and an almost clumsy pressing and counter-pressing. Completely renewed, Sahin’s team has a strong point average of 1.72 points per game. “When Nuri Sahin took office, we started to play very attractive football. We can also see that from the crowded spectator stands. He has a different football philosophy. Everyone can see how the team plays before Nuri Sahin and now with him. Everyone sees that we play without fear,” describes Antalyaspor President Aziz Cetin.
Sahin does not have a coaching license and, at least on paper, is still in the second row behind license holder Alfons Groenendijk. But even without coaching courses, Sahin can look back on a lot of knowledge from various coaches with a view to his eventful playing career: For example José Mourinho, Bert van Marwijk or Brendan Rodgers. But two German trainers made a lasting impression on the novice: Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel. “Klopp is my idol,” says Sahin: “He’s the perfect person. It’s like this: Many people have the specialist knowledge, otherwise you can’t do the job from a certain level. But what sets him apart from everyone else is his humanity.”
But Thomas Tuchel has also done it to him. Above all, his speech during a team meeting after a friendly defeat by Borussia Dortmund: “Thomas was dissatisfied because some of us thought it wasn’t so bad because it was just the preparation. Then he showed us scenes from John Terry and Carles Puyol. Not from competitive games, but from supposedly insignificant tests, so that we can see the intensity with which they defended in games like this.”
It only seems logical that Antalyaspor will not be the last stop at the furious start of his coaching career. And it is also almost inevitable that Sahin will return to Borussia Dortmund at some point. The club he rooted for as a kid, where he was a ball boy and then headed the 2011 championship team. “I’ve never made a secret of the fact that Borussia Dortmund is an affair of the heart for me and that I dream of celebrating a victory in front of the south stand as a coach,” admits Sahin frankly: “When I left BVB and went to Bremen left, I sat at home with my wife in the evening and said to her: ‘I think I’ll have what it takes to coach this club at some point.’
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