Turkish delight: 5 transfers that hit the sweet spot in Turkey

January 11, 2013 in Features, Transfers by George Curtis

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Manchester United fans may squirm when reading that long-time target Wesley Sneijder has taken a supposed backwards step in joining Turkish giants Galatasaray, but it wouldn’t be the first time a top name footballer has made the switch to Eastern Europe. Sneijder, undoubtedly the biggest of all to make the switch, has turned a few heads in his apparent ignorance of interest shown in him from Europe’s elite by agreeing terms with the 18-time Turkish League winners. Indeed, United aren’t the only side who would jump at the chance to land the Dutchman for a reported wage packet of £85k a week after bonuses. But, as Sneijder embarks on the latest chapter of his stalled career, it’s time to take a look back at some of those who have taken a similar path.


Harry Kewell – Liverpool to Galatasaray, free transfer (July 2008)

Aussie Harry Kewell’s switch from Merseyside to Istanbul provoked strong criticism from sections of Leeds United’s support. The memory of two Leeds fans who were killed in a clash with Gala fans before a UEFA Cup match in April 2000 lives on, and Kewell’s decision to leave England for a club considered an enemy angered Leeds fans. But injury-ridden Kewell had only football on his mind, and his selection of the no.19 shirt (that which he first received as a Leeds United player) was in dedication to the time he spent at Elland Road.

Kewell’s career had often been curtailed by injury, particularly during his five-year stint with Liverpool, a period in which he lifted the Champions League trophy despite limping off in the first half of the final in Istanbul. But three years with Aslan (The Lions) went smoothly, and after a stellar debut in which he scored with his first touch and set up the winning goal, Kewell went on to play 61 times for the club. A goal return of 23 helped make him a firm favourite with the club’s fans and he went on to earn the nickname OzBüyücüsü; The Wizard of Oz.

In June 2011, Kewell called it a day on his career in Turkey in favour of heading home to join Melbourne Victory where the 34-year old went on to make 25 appearances before being released. He remains a free agent.


Scott Carson – West Bromwich Albion to Bursaspor, £2mill (July 2011)

Scott Carson endured much ridicule in England after his calamitous error against Croatia at Wembley cost England a place in Euro 2008. West Bromwich Albion remained faithful to him and Carson went on to become an important part of the Midlands side’s make up. But, after failing to make the no.1 jersey his own for Fabio Capello’s England, Carson decided to jet off and join the Turkish revolution by joining Bursaspor for £2mill in the summer of 2011.

Carson has proved a solid capture for the side that finished eighth in the Turkish Super Lig last season and has so far made 51 appearances for the club. He also has a Turkish Cup runners up medal to show for his efforts in Turkey. Let’s just hope all this glory doesn’t persuade Roy Hodgson to bring him back to the England fold, right?


Emmanuel Eboue – Arsenal to Galatasaray, 3.5mill Euros (August 2011)

Perhaps one of the more colourful players in European football today, Emmanuel Eboue never fails to entertain. His career with Arsenal was littered with headline moments, most notably being booed by his own fans, and it didn’t stop after making the move to Galatasaray in August 2011.

The Ivorian’s parody Twitter feed has caused the biggest stir since his move to Turkey, as ‘his’ very vocal, rather crude appreciation for footballing issues has won him many fans. It seems a no-holds-barred attitude works the best in Turkey, if Eboue’s Twitter is anything to go by.

As for football, after rejecting approaches from Tottenham and Roma, Eboue agreed a 4-year contract with Gala. He has now nearly reached the half-century mark in terms of appearances and the Ivory Coast international admitted that coach Fatih Terim has been an inspiration to him. It was that inspiration that took Galatasaray all the way to the league title in Eboue’s first season, and the full-back remains dedicated to both his football in Istanbul.

The former Gunner has also helped his latest side reach the last 16 of the Champions League, a run that saw them defeat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the group stages.


Albert Riera – Olympiakos to Galatasaray, 3mill Euros (August 2011)

Albert Riera must have thought he’d been mistaken for Barack Obama when he walked off the plane upon arriving in Istanbul. Riera required security to guide him through the terminal as thousands of fanatical Galatasaray fans were present to greet the new signing from Olympiakos.

The former Liverpool winger signed for the Turkish champions in August 2011 for a mere 3 million Euros, a fee considered a bargain amongst the Turkish press. So far, the 30-year old hasn’t set the world alight in his 39 appearances for Aslan, but he remains a fan favourite. If Albert Riera can drum up that kind of support, imagine the scenes when Mr. Sneijder disembarks his flight.


Dirk Kuyt – Liverpool to Fenerbahce, 1mill Euros (June 2012)

The most recent footballing import from England to Turkey is Dirk Kuyt, who made the move from Merseyside to join Fenerbahce last summer for a meagre 1 million Euros. Kuyt made a name for himself at Liverpool for his unquenchable desire to work hard for the benefit of the team, and he often chipped in with a fair few goals playing wide right.

Fener’ have used him in a more central position this season, a transition that has seen him net seven times in his first 17 games. At 32, Kuyt’s engine won’t be far long empty, but for now, the Dutchman is showing no signs of lag.