Turkish football fans run a storm for AA Gent’s home match against Basaksehir: “In Europe, mutual rivalry is put aside for a while”

Mohammed Kurtulus played football in Turkey for thirteen years after his Ghent period. “It was only when I started playing there that I really got to know the country. — © Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Mohammed Kurtulus played football in Turkey for many years. A few years ago he was even active as a T2 in the Turkish league. The ideal man for a preview of Basaksehir’s arrival in Ghent. “Many supporters have already called me to arrange tickets for the match in Ghent.”

Stefan Smet

“When I left AA Gent in 1997, where I still played football under Vandereycken and Clijsters, I moved to Turkey”, Mohamed Kurtulus looks back on his playing career. “I ended up playing in Turkey for thirteen years. The local fans love football and everything has to give way to the sport. Many supporters have already called me to arrange tickets for the match in Ghent. If 10,000 tickets were available, they would also be sold.”

On the other hand, the young Kurtulus had to get used to life in the country where his roots lie. “I had a great time in Turkey, but initially I also needed an adjustment period. As a young man in his twenties, it was still a big step. I grew up in Belgium and of course knew Turkey through the family holidays, but it was only when I started playing there that I really got to know the country.”

“After my career I thought I would continue to live there, but after my divorce I took the plunge and returned to Belgium. I was still active as a coach there and two years ago I worked as a T2 at Sivasspor. I am certainly open to a new adventure, bring it on”, smiles the former creative midfielder, who does not immediately expect that AA Gent will have a cauldron in Istanbul.

Anything but a hostile environment, also for the traveling fans of AA Gent. “Basaksehir is a real family club. The players are always paid punctually and also realize that they can live in a beautiful city. The administration of Basaksehir is very calm, very atypical for Turkish football. On the field, however, things are going south. They form a strong whole and play football very technically. A team that is difficult to disrupt, so.”

Not a crowd pleaser

However, Basaksehir is anything but a crowd puller. “The match in Istanbul will not mobilize so many people. Also in the Turkish league they usually don’t attract that many supporters. Nevertheless, you can be sure that many Turkish football supporters from our neighboring countries will also come to the Ghelamco Arena on Thursday. In Europe, the club is also supported by fans of Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe or Besiktas. The mutual rivalry is then put aside for a day.”

“Of course the interest would have been even greater if Galatasaray came to visit Ghent, but don’t underestimate Basaksehir. The group has been playing together for many years. Their coach, Emre Belözoglu, was also still active as a player. Money problems are unknown to the club, so the players can always play very relaxed football. I would certainly not underestimate them in terms of level.”

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