Successful Turkish striker Fatih Tekke, currently playing for Russia's Zenit, has said that he has made significant achievements with the team, winning the UEFA Cup, the Super Cup, the Russian League championship and the Russian Cup.
"As a Turkish citizen, I take pride in all these achievements. It was a great chance for me to be part of the team when we won these four cups. Here, I know that I represent Turkey. Now, Russia is sufficiently informed about Turkish football. This is not something you can achieve simply by paying money," he said.
‘St. Petersburg is one of the top five European cities’
Speaking to Sunday's Zaman about his current status with Zenit, his plans for the future, Russian football, life in Russia and transfers in Turkey, Tekke stated that many of his teammates and many people in St. Petersburg love Turkey. "When I was transferred to Zenit, I thought I would go to a relatively backward city. However, in terms of culture, organization and modernity, St. Petersburg can be considered one of the top five European cities. Its inhabitants harbor an unbelievable love toward us. One cannot understand it without really seeing it. All this was very special experience for me," he said.
Tekke indicated that football infrastructure in Turkey and Russia is different. "In Russia, people have an increased interest in sports, specifically in football, on the day when the match will be played. This interest is generally restricted to the field where the match is played. Fans do not exert intense psychological pressure on players. On the other hand, in Turkey, football is not restricted to the field of the match. It continues to be a major item on the agenda for the whole week. The technical infrastructure, stadiums and facilities in Russia are as modern as those in Turkey. The climate has some role in this. While this may not apply to Zenit, other teams do not have any fear about their fans. Yet, I predict the future of Russian football will be a bright one. I recommend that more Turkish players play for Russian teams," he said.
He likes borscht and blini
The successful Turkish player notes that his teammates, the Tatar community and the Turkish diaspora frequently invite him to dinner but that aside from that, his social life is quite limited. "I am quite selective about meals. My family and children remain in Turkey. They visit me from time to time. I like blini, a Russian pancake, and borscht, a soup. Other than these, I am quite picky about meals. I am choosy even about Turkish dishes. I cook my own food. I like to read books in my spare time. I am not fond of watching TV," he said.
May stay in Russia
Tekke also responded to claims that he is isolated from the team. "I have a contract for another year. My family is in Turkey. Life in Russia is not as good as it sounds. These problems are affecting my playing. Of course, I'm not obsessed about returning to Turkey. I would consider being transferred to a team in Europe. However, if a good offer is made by a Turkish team, I might reconsider my plans. I cannot say much about my future in Russia. If the club has an offer to make, then I will take a look at the situation. Nevertheless, time will tell. My intention is to achieve great things here before going to Europe or returning to Turkey," he said.
Tekke underlined that he likes to play and hates to wait, noting that because of this, he has some problems with the club management. "I have discussed these in detail with [Zenit manager] Dick Advocaat. We arrived at an amenable settlement. I played for about 20 minutes during our last match. Currently, I have no problem with my club. But I want to play more. I have scored only half the number of goals I had planned to score by now. This, too, affects me. I have learned many things at Zenit. The fans are very enthusiastic. I love them," he said.
Galatasaray likely champions in the new season
Pointing out that Galatasaray has had a good preseason as far as he can follow from their transfers, Tekke predicted that Galatasaray is likely to be the champion of the new season unless something drastically changes. He said that Galatasaray's Keita transfer, Fenerbahçe's Mehmet Topuz transfer and Trabzonspor's Engin Baytar transfer were good strategic moves by those teams.
He admitted that he, too, met with officials from Trabzonspor, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş to discuss a potential transfer, but there was no deal. Acknowledging Trabzonspor's contributions to his career, he maintained that the lack of a deal with Trabzonspor was not because of the money involved.
Playing abroad is tough Touching on the hardship of playing for a foreign team, Tekke said: "I get together with other Turkish players in Russia. Caner Erkin is a young player and he plays for a good team at CSKA. Hasan Kabze plays for Rubin Kazan and has a Turkish teammate, Gökdeniz Karadeniz. Age is a factor. Adaptation may be harder at an age over 30. One should be able to chat with one's teammates during camps, before and after the matches. Learning a foreign language is a problem. In Turkey, we show greater interest in foreign players outside the matches. This is how things are done in Turkey. There are also problems about listening to one's questions or asking how one is doing. These may seem a trifle to many, but they may be important for foreign players."