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Young Turk

Not much gets past us, but when it comes in the form of another language it can present more of a challenge. Thank goodness one of my businesses, FC Sports Marketing LTD operates from the relevant Country of Turkey – and my brother-in-law, Bilen Kur, was available.

An article was about the latest Turkish import, a player with impressive goal-scoring potential and prowess. Here it appeared in the Turkish version of Four Four Two:

We translated it for appreciation and publishing in the UK. A summary was published in the Manchester Evening News:

Anyone interested in the full, unabreviated translation can read it exclusively here:

When Enes Ünal signed for Manchester City, most people couldn’t understand how it happened. The young striker removes the mystery and writes about the days that he achieved his dreams for FourFourTwo.

I am 18 years old Unal. Son of football player Mesut Unal, and the oldest child of my Mother, the big brother of two who follow their Father’s footsteps. I will try to explain for you my journey from Bursaspor to Manchester City with the things accompanying me.

Humanity, exists with the story and this keeps in existence by my sharing these stories with the future generations. We live to leave a mark with our feelings, what we experience and also what we give to other people. Everybody has a story and moments that can be shared with others. My story, running after a football is similar to everyone’s story. It contains every feeling bit by bit. There was at first malaise because of a sudden climate changes, but most often the happiness of where I am and the pride of pursuing my dreams.

I started to write this article’s first lines from the other side of the World. I will be in a different continent next and this story will continue as long as I have dreams. There is a nice adventure in front of me and I feel I am energetic, strong and determined enough to go after this adventure. Now, I will go back to starting point for my story, to the moment that I first opened my eyes from birth.

Everything started in Bursa Zübeyde Hanım A State Hospital, 10th of May, 1997. I opened my eyes. Obviously, I learned these first moments from what I am being told. I remember the tale and I like a lot that I listened to it many times from my Mother. After a smooth operation I was born as a healthy baby except for one issue. My legs were so skewed that my Aunt was trying to fix them with her hands and her efforts were being stopped by my Grandmother. My Mother was upset about my warped legs and started to grumble to the Doctor. The moment that makes the story unforgettable is the sentence that the Doctor said on one of the examinations 18 years ago; “Don’t get upset, he could be a quality football player”.

So, that is how my story begins. And most of the subsequent memories, the moments I remember, contain a football. Like most of the children, my story started by playing between roads and includes many parts from the local games in streets which we were playing in Adapazarı. I can share some of them here.

When I was six or seven years old, I remember football with Tuncay Şanlı (ex Middlesbrough and Stoke City player) who played in Sakaryaspor with my Father. I should mention that, after being ten years old, I had a chance to play with him in the same team.

I keep the date in my mind when Bursaspor was relegated in 2003-04 season. The last game of the season was with Samsunspor and it was in Sakarya (Adapazarı). We were in the stadium with my Father. Bursaspor won the game but was still relegated because of the other games’ results. We left the stadium early because fans seemed to make a scene. I met pepperspray that day! I wasn’t really aware what was going on, but I witnessed one of the worst days of the team I supported, a contrast just like I witnessed the best days a few years later.

With some years in Bursa, I saw a lot of things in this City, even in the two years which I was professional; there are lots of memories that have affected my life. Some of these are the ‘unseen part of an iceberg’ and it is better to leave them there…..

I was in Bursa in my childhood, the best years of my life. The years where everything I learned was new everything I lived was for the first time. That was the hardest thing about when I was leaving. Because of this, I don’t want to dwell on Bursa, if I started it could be a little novel instead of an article in the magazine! I have learned in the streets of Bursa everything I know, I made good friendships. I always liked living in Bursa and I will always be proud to be the kid from Bursa.

Manchester City Days

I had the best moments in Bursaspor but you already know these days, so I will talk about the part you are more curious about.

As you may guess, the first days were hard for me. Especially in the first week I can say I am startled in many ways. I was late to training in my second day in City. It wasn’t my fault though. It was the mistake of the person who is looking after me in the Club, as he told me the wrong time, but never mind! In Turkey, usually the pre-season camps start with adapting to conditions, physical tests and light trainings. But it wasn’t like I expected here. In the first training session, the tempo was so high that I was about to throw up. I started to get used to it slowly and started to be more comfortable both physically and mentally.

After that part of the story, everything was perfect. Team mates had a big role in this situation.
Nobody is arrogant or disrespectful. There is no distinction between young and old players. You feel like one of them in a short time. They make you feel like this on the pitch, in the changing room, during lunch or in parking area, almost everywhere.

In teams, everybody has a nickname which is private to that team, which makes you feel you belong to that group. So I can say nobody called me with my name. Led by Joe Hart, some players called me “Zlatan”. A television crew, as they are doing more visual stuff, called me “Johnny Depp.”

As these ones sympathetic, I feel free to share them here. But there are some other nicknames which need to stay inside!

I believe, it would be nice to share what I have experienced on the pitch. It gives the feeling that it is a high level organization – players are very comfortable at ‘City’. This feeling is valid from the Captain down to the 17 year old player. It is very important in helping a young player develop at Manchester City. One of the coaches I worked with before would yell; “Young players don’t have a chance to lose the ball!” but in here, everybody is motivating each other even if you lose the ball. All they want from young players is to put in an effort. It is that simple and easy! Besides, motivation after a mistake you are given support and praise. They try to keep mentally up in every way. For example, you can make a hard tackle against the Captain Kompany but he doesn’t say anything to you and carries on focussing on his job only. You don’t ever expect that somebody will come for revenge later on in training! A young player can say “it is my ball” (take a throw in or corner ) against an experienced one, and believe me, there are many places it is impossible to say that!

Before training, nice music is played in the changing room and everybody gets in a good mood and then all training is challenging. As I mentioned before, the most important part is the relaxed mood of all players in all age groups. They are giving there best on the pitch and know how to have fun when they are not working. In Turkey, there is big pressure but no system. In here, there is no pressure but an unbelievable system!

I need to wrap up the City part of the story… From Bursa to Manchester, to joining team in Melbourne for pre season camp and then ending at a camp in Vietnam. I am writing these lines in the last part of the 15 hour Vietnam- Manchester flight. We might be on top of Genk. My first experiences in City is getting to an end here. It was very good and an important experience for me. I followed my dreams and realized what I can do. Now, I will be pushing harder. The next stop on this story is Genk and I will write rest of lines about there. Let’s see how Belgium sounds in this story.

Genk Days

After we landed at Manchester my first thought were, the long journeys have ended. The following day, I move to Genk, which is has a 1 hour trip. I recall the Far East journey, it makes me feel like I am just coming back home after each training!

We are at the airport with Batur Altıparmak (my agent). While waiting for the plane, Batur wanted to check my passport and we had a bad surprise, my visa had expired! After a little shock, we just bought tickets for Istanbul and we arrived to Istanbul early in the morning. With the help of Genk’s authorities we sorted out the visa problem quickly and flew to Belgium on the same day and the first lines of the new part unfolds.

Genk is a small city. You can see everything by walking 5 minutes around the City Centre ! As all over Belgium, there are lots of historical artefacts. If you are looking for different things Genk is not the right place, but if you like calm places you are in the right location. You can’t even compare the stress and pressure with Turkey both in the City and the Club. I am writing these notes after I have played three games and I only had a little stress in the last game. And that was because it was a derby game. We trained looking to “There is only one game you must win” dictate all week. By the way, the stress I am talking about is the same amount in a standard league game in Turkey. Unfortunately, we lost the game but fans called us to stands for consultation. Genk fans are great and don’t leave us alone in away as well as home games.

I want to talk a little bit about the pitch. My first target was adapting to the system and I can say I have achieved that. After I started to play in officiaI games, I got rid of the pressure and stress which occurred last season. I feel very good whilst on the pitch. More importantly, I am at peace. The Belgium League is hard and pacey. There might not be the same quality players as in our (Turkish) league but there are athletic and strong players. All teams have a shape and system, there isn’t any teams playing a random game. And this makes, especially away games, really hard. As a result, football authorities call it “the Evolution League”.

I would like to share just a few details about my social life in Belgium. At first, days were training- eating – sleeping. After a tiring pre-season camp, I needed a mental rest , then I started to adapt to a new country. I emphasise again, the calmness of City helped me a lot in this period. I spent my evenings reading books, watching movies and series. I had a chance to watch the movie “In Bruges” which is shot in Bruge where is very close to Genk. I wish I could have seen this masterpiece movie before but in terms of geography, it was the best time I guess.

There are a lot of Turkish people in the City. I hear people talking Turkish whenever I go out. The hospitality of our people is recognisable here as well, they always try to help me. So I don’t feel a stranger. The biggest problem is staying in a hotel but my house will be ready when you are reading this article.

So then there is one thing left; showing good performances on the pitch and saluting you with my goals…


Want to learn more about our activities in Turkey visit: Beware you’ll need to know the native tongue though!

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