Story By: Juan Mayes, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
Turkish icon and former Blackburn Rovers striker Hakan Sukur says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “took everything” from him after he was forced to flee to the USA and become an Uber driver.
Sukur, 48, made the comments during an interview with German newspaper ‘Welt am Sonntag’.
The former footballer claimed current Turkish President Erdogan, 65, forced him to leave the country in 2015 after he and his family received several threats.
Sukur, who himself was a member of the Justice and Development (AKP) Party which Erdogan leads, spoke about his past with politics saying: “The party invited me to benefit from my popularity.”
However, after Sukur stepped down from the party in 2013 after a corruption scandal, the former striker said: “That is when the hostilities started.
“Stones were thrown at my wife’s boutique, my children were harassed on the street. I received threats after every statement I made.”
Sukur said the pressure was so much that he decided to flee Turkey in 2015 seeking exile from the hostile environment, however, the decision did not come without consequence.
Sukur explained: “When I left, they locked my father up and everything I had was confiscated.
“I have nothing left in the world. Erdogan took everything from me. The right to freedom, the right to explain myself, to express myself, the right to work.”
His father was later released from prison after he was diagnosed with cancer. He is reportedly still under house arrest.
Local media report Sukur’s mother was also diagnosed with cancer. It is unclear the type of cancer his parents have.
Sukur went on to criticise the current Turkish President saying: “When I joined the AKP, Turkey was a country that conformed with EU standards and got a lot of investment from Europe.
“But Erdogan’s politics led to tightness and a completely different direction was taken, a direction towards the Middle East instead of Europe.”
The former Galatasaray superstar assured he is not “an enemy of the government, the state or the nation” despite there being a reported warrant for his arrest since August 2016.
Sukur ended by sending a message to President Erdogan saying: “Return to democracy, justice and human rights.
“Be someone who is interested in the problems of the people. Become the president that Turkey needs.”
Sukur now reportedly works for popular American company Uber as a driver and sells books to make a living in the USA after enjoying a very successful career as a professional footballer.
He played most of his professional years for Galatasaray for a total of 13 years making 545vappearances and scoring 295 goals. He helped the Turkish side win the Super Lig eight times, the Turkish Cup five times and the UEFA Cup in 2000.
He also represented Turkey between 1992 to 2007 becoming the country’s top goalscorer in history with 51 caps in 112 appearances. He signed for Graeme Souness’ Blackburn Rovers in December 2002 and scored two goals in nine appearances for the side after breaking his leg in training before returning to Galatasaray.
He retired from professional football in 2008 and has the record for the fastest goal in the World Cup scoring 11 seconds into a match against host country South Korea in 2002.
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