One of the best in Turkish football history: Arda Turan

by Anadolu Agency


Arda Turan, 35, one of the best players in Turkish football history, on Monday announced his retirement from football.

He was a decorated player, having helped his teams win titles in both Spanish La Liga and the Turkish Super Lig along with a UEFA Europa League victory in 2011.

Early years

Arda Turan was born on Jan. 30, 1987 in Istanbul. In 2000, when he was just 13 years old, he transferred to the youth team of Istanbul powerhouse Galatasaray.

After playing six years for the youth team, Turan was loaned to Manisaspor in the second half of the 2005-06 season, to gain experience.

Under the helm of head coach Ersun Yanal, Arda played in 15 of 17 matches left in the season. There he made one assist against his former team Galatasaray.

After his return home, Galatasaray offered him a contract extension until 2011, which he accepted.

His first big performance was Galatasaray’s 5-2 victory over Czech club FK Mlada Boleslav in the 2007 UEFA Champions League qualifiers, in which he scored twice.

In the 2007-08 season, Turan clinched his first and only Turkish Super Lig title with Galatasaray.

In the summer of 2008, the Turkish National Football team was one of the title contenders in UEFA EURO 2008. The left-winger was an integral part of the bronze-medaled squad, who were famous for their comebacks.

Troubles, transfer to Spain

The 2008-09 season was a turning point for Arda Turan. Galatasaray underperformed for the entire season and could barely finish in the number five spot to be eligible to compete in European tournaments.

Turan, who up to then was well known for his friendly disposition, tarnished his reputation for the first time in a week 27 derby against Fenerbahce. He was sent off with a red card and after the game made an aggressive statement to the press.

The next season, the Lions decided to rebuild their squad. Arda was at the center of the new team as he was named team captain and awarded the iconic jersey number 10, previously worn by team legends including Gheorge Hagi and Metin Oktay.

In the 2009-10 season, Turan, only 22 at that time, was expected to lead the Frank Rijkaard-coached squad including star players like Harry Kewell, Kader Keita, Lincoln, and Milan Baros. This weighty responsibility put a lot of pressure on Turan, and he seemed to grow more and more irritable. During at least one point he found himself booed by his own fans.

The 2010-11 season was worse for both Galatasaray and skipper Turan, as the Lions faced one of their worst season finishes in club history, ending the season in the number eight spot.

Through the season he also suffered several groin injuries, which would later grow to be a chronic problem until the end of his career.

The opportunity for Arda to make his career flourish again came from Spanish club Atletico Madrid, as the club made him a more than $14 million transfer offer, which he accepted.

Turan reached the top of his form with the Madrid club, helping them win the UEFA Europa League in 2011, UEFA Super Cup in 2013, and Spanish La Liga title in 2014.

In July 2015, Turan made the biggest transfer move in Turkish football history by signing a contract with Spanish powerhouse Barcelona worth more than $37 million.

Fall from grace

Despite clinching one La Liga title with Barcelona in 2016, Turan’s time with Barca was disappointing for many.

He was even included in “the worst 11 of the season” by the Spanish press.

After searching for a suitable club for Arda for some time, Barcelona decided to loan the left-winger to Turkish club Basaksehir in 2018.

After his loan with Basaksehir ended, Turan returned to Galatasaray in 2020 on a free transfer move.

However, due to his absence from the pitch for several years, his contributions to the team fell short, and he announced his retirement on Sept. 12.

Play style, controversies

Arda was a very talented dribbler. His ball control, game vision, and passing skills were remarkable.

His inclination to dribble towards the goal from the left line gave him the opportunity for some well-aimed shots and unexpected goals.

He was named captain of both Galatasaray and the Turkish national team.

Despite being one of the most talented players in Turkish football history, Turan’s name came up in controversies several times during his career.

His media and political ties sparked controversy.

In 2016, Turan was rumored to have gotten into a heated discussion with then-Turkish national team manager Fatih Terim about the bonuses that players would get for the tournament.

On June 6, 2017, Arda attacked journalist Bilal Mese by cursing and choking him on the national team’s plane. The next day, he said that he did not regret it, refused to apologize, and announced his retirement from the national team.

On Oct. 10, 2018, Turkish singer Berkay claimed that Arda Turan harassed his girlfriend and attacked him in a nightclub. Footage showing Turan at a hospital approaching Berkay with a gun attracted public criticism.

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