Unlike Gundogan, who plays for Germany, the Inter midfielder continues to wear the Turkish national team shirt. The father: “Proud that he is here, he has a strong attachment to our land”
June 10 – ISTANBUL (Türkiye)
From the taxi driver stuck in crazy traffic to the security of the Ataturk Stadium, passing through bartenders and restaurateurs: it seems that in these parts there is no one who will not cheer for Hakan Calhanoglu, a Turkish of origin like Gundogan, but with one substantial difference: compared to Interista, the City midfielder chose to play for Germany at the time, rather easy that way. Calha too, like tonight’s rival-friend, was still born in German territory, but he has defended the red flag with the Arab crescent all his life. Recently he even does it with the captain’s armband. “I know my people are with me and will be rooting for Inter”, he said yesterday, hinting at a smile at the press conference. His bond with the mother country can also be measured in the face of tragedies, for example in the past he declared that he had never experienced pain similar to that caused by the earthquake of last February: in addition to lavish personal donations, from the beginning Hakan has provided containers for displaced people and involved some foundations to help orphans and support them up to the age of 18. This will be his most beautiful goal, waiting for this Champions League which takes him back to his origins, to his education and to the identity passed on in the family. At the edge of Bayburt, the city in full Trebizond of the famous castle that dominates the eastern plateau of Anatolia. From there, in the 1970s, the Calhanoglu family emigrated to Germany, seeking their fortune in Manheim, not far from the border with the Netherlands: “But Turkey is our real home, and above all Hakan’s…”, says Huseyin, father proud and happy with this “special” final.
Mr. Calhanoglu, how much German is there in your son anyway?
“Hakan was born in Germany, he loves and respects it as his own country also because he was actually raised there. He is grateful to its teams and coaches, but also to German football that helped make him what he is. But he really feels Turkish because he was raised like this and always gave priority to his origins. This is a source of pride for us in the family, but for the whole nation, especially in front of such an important match.”
What is your son’s turkey, then?
“Although he is constantly abroad and is happy to live in Italy, as soon as he can Hakan stops in my hometown, Bayburt, at certain times of the year. He has a very strong bond, he can’t wait to set foot there as soon as a season. There he spends his time riding horses, which is our most practiced sport, but he also loves fishing in the Çoruh River and the animals around it.”
How do you as a family feel about this home final?
“You can’t imagine a father’s pride in seeing him here, as a player of a great team like Inter and as captain of our national team. He really is the crowning achievement of a dream that we now hope to complete by raising the last cup as well” .
What do you remember of the child Hakan who spent the summers with his grandparents?
“One summer in Bayburt we woke up and little Hakan was not at home. We searched far and wide for him, but we could not find him. My son was very fond of animals and, only after a while, we found out that he had gone to the village shepherd. He wanted to help him graze. We saw them eating together the fruit they had picked from the tree: I will never forget this sweet moment”.
And, on the other hand, how is your relationship with Istanbul, immense and so different from your country of origin?
“Hakan loves and is also very attached to Istanbul, to the point that he spends periods of the year there when he has free time and has bought a house there where perhaps he will decide to live in the future. Istanbul is a world city with countless beauties. The his favorite place in the city remains the Bosphorus, but he also loves the Hagia Sophia, the Princes Islands off the Asian coast, the Topkapı Palace which was once the residence of the Ottoman sultan, the Galata Tower and of course the Blue Mosque “.
What are the best memories that tie him to the stadium of the final, Ataturk?
“On 24 March 2021, in the match played between Turkey and the Netherlands for the World Cup qualifiers, in the 46th minute he put it in, Hakan. It is an indelible memory, as is the result of the match: 4-2 against a great national team with my son great protagonist”.
Will it end like this with City too?
“We all know what a giant City is, how much they invested to have happened for a long time. Hakan’s Inter, however, have also eliminated strong teams in the Champions League and are one of the hungriest collectives: we are as good as those of City And since my son became an Inter player, many Turks have also become fans: I think for this reason that the public will be more with us Nerazzurri. If Inter win, many would immediately think of the party that will take place in Milan , but it is underestimated that there will be great enthusiasm in Turkey as well. And for sure we will have a big family celebration in our Bayburt.”
June 10, 2023 (change June 10, 2023 | 10:59 am)
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