Reverse Turkish-German immigration in football

17 September 2010
Young football players with Turkish roots who have grown up in Germany and cut their teeth in the German football system are in much demand — particularly in Turkey. At the moment, 59 men who fit this description can be found playing in Turkey’s top league. And, every year, agents are bringing a fresh batch of talented young men — with Turkish passports and “Made in Germany” pedigrees — to its clubs.
Talent scouts focus their poaching efforts on German clubs with good reputations for devoting a lot of resources to training their younger players, such as Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund. They woo the young men — some of whom have only just turned 16 — away with promises of seeing regular playing time on a first-division Turkish team, higher pay and a chance to live in Turkey. As Vural puts it: “We’re bringing the boys back home.”
Still, it’s not always easy for the talented young players from Germany to adjust to living and playing in Turkey. In Germany, player Aygünes was always called “the Turk”; but, in Turkey, people call him the Almanci, the German, on account of his accent. In Germany, he would often get upset about all the rules and envy the energy and vitality of the Turks. But now, in bustling Istanbul, he occasionally misses the orderly, slow pace of life back in Germany.