Sabah Interview Transcript in English
Sabah Interview Transcript in English
By Nathan L. Redd
I've had some e-mails today from our non-Turkish-speaking visitors asking for a transcript of the interview with Sabah, in English. I haven't had a chance to sit down and do a direct translation of the interview in English just yet, but I am posting an original copy of the interview transcript that I did. Keep in mind that this was the original version before it was edited, so it is obviously lengthy.
Here you go...:
Could you tell us about yourself? Where are you from? What are you
studing at the moment?
I was born in Owensboro, Kentucky in the middle of the USA. I attended university at University of Louisville and earned a Bachelor's degree in Business. I returned a few years later to earn my Master's degree in Sport Management and Sport Business, and I will finish this in 2008. I am married, and my wife and I are planning to move to Europe after I finish my graduate school. This will come as no surprise, but my goal is to work for a sport club and eventually for Fenerbahce. My graduate program is excellent and is preparing me well for a career in the business of sport. I have played basketball and baseball in the past and coached some as well. Believe it or not, I never played futbol at all until one year ago.
When did you hear about Fenerbahce first and how?
Well, my wife lived in Izmir for a few years as a child and she loved Turkiye. This was my first introduction to Turkiye. When we moved to Louisville in 2002, we met some Turkish friends and one of them was a Fenerbahce fan. We went to his apartment to watch the derby - Fenerbahce vs. Galatasaray. I started watching then but my wife and I traveled to Istanbul in 2005 and I fell in love with Turkiye and Fenerbahce. I remember driving past Sukru Saracoglu and being in awe. When I returned to America, I started following Fenerbahce online and I grew to love the club more each day. I didn't speak any Turkish at the time, so it was difficult to follow but I started learning. Because of the time difference, I would also organize my schedule around the games, and every weekend afternoon I would sit in the front of the computer to watch or follow online. My wife would be in the other room laughing at me because I would suddenly cheer or start singing Fenerbahce marches. She thought I was crazy!
How is the people's reaction when they first find out that you are
actually a fan of a turkish soccer team?
You know, the first question everyone asks is "Why?!?" The Americans ask why a "soccer" team and the others ask "why Fenerbahce?" I grew up hating futbol (I don't call it soccer). I started watching as I got older and as you know, most Americans don't like futbol. The ones who do watch usually support English teams. I didn't like futbol when I was young because I didn't understand it. However, I started traveling internationally and realized everyone but America loves it, so we must be missing something. I was absolutely right! I started watching and learning the game and fell in love with it. Now, I watch all kinds of futbol - English teams, Italian teams, etc. I even went to an Italian Serie A game just a few months ago. However, Fenerbahce is my only team and it was easy to love Fenerbahce. I tell everyone that Allah brought Fenerbahce to me. I honestly believe that one day the world will talk about Fenerbahce like they talk about Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, etc. Fenerbahce has the resources and facilities of those other great clubs, but we have something that they do not - we have the greatest fans in the world. I am very passionate when I talk about Fenerbahce, but of course, the Americans think I am crazy! Everyone is learning now that I want to work for Fenerbahce one day, however, and so they see how serious I am about this.
When did you start the blog and how is it going? Do you have fans too?
And what kind of feedbacks are you getting about your blog?
Haha (laughing), I don't know if I have fans, but I have some very loyal visitors to my website. I do get noticed a lot more by Turks though, and my friends tell me that I'm a little more famous in Turkiye! I started the blog in July 2006. I had been watching Fenerbahce for a while but I realized that there was very little information about the club in English. My wife and I knew we would one day move to Turkiye, so I started trying to learn Turkish. My Turkish still isn't great, but I can usually understand enough to read an article and know what they are saying. I first started just trying to translate news into English, but then I started writing original articles for the blog. I get a lot of great feedback from other fans in Japan, Brazil, Germany, etc. who also don't speak Turkish but they like Fenerbahce. I am really happy to get e-mails from those people because that is exactly why I started the blog! It is also amazing to see how many people come to the site each day and where they are from.
How do you get to watch Fenerbahce's games?
I don't have the satellite to watch games unfortunately, so I watch online usually.
What is your opinion about new famous transfers like Roberto Carlos?
Like the other Fener fans, I'm thrilled about bringing Roberto Carlos to Kadikoy. He is a world-class player and is still at the top of his game. One of the things that makes me the happiest is the attention and publicity that Fenerbahce has received because of this signing. I was watching Sky Sports News out of London last week and they showed his arrival at Ataturk Airport. A few minutes later I got a call from a friend of mine from Amman, Jordan who saw the footage on Al-Jazeera. I think the signing made the world realize that Fenerbahce is truly committed to becoming a European power. The fact that we can be mentioned with signing great players like Roberto Carlos brings great publicity for the club. Hopefully everyone will realize who Fenerbahce is. I think the fans will be very excited because from a technical standpoint, our defense had some lapses last season, and Carlos should be able to strengthen that. He brings a wealth of experience and is a champion. He is also a man of great character, so I have no doubt that he will win the hearts of Fenerli's.
I am sure you know that Rustu is not with Fenerbahce anymore, what do
you think about that?
Yes, I was very disappointed because Rustu had a legacy with Fenerbahce that is somewhat tainted now. Fenerbahce was very good to him, especially through the hardship of this past season. However, he made the decision that he felt was right for him, and he may have had to battle for his starting spot with Serdar and Volkan for this next season. I still have the utmost respect for Rustu, and I think it's a great move for BJK. I will still cheer for him with Besiktas and the Milli Takim.
Why do you think soccer is not as populer in America as it is in the
world? It is being watched and played almost all over the world.
That's a great question that I get asked all the time. I think there are a number of factors. For one, I think there are so many sporting options in America and it's hard for "soccer" to find its place. I think the biggest factor, though, is the mindset of Americans. Many Americans don't want to give it a chance because it is not traditionally American. I think a lot of Americans are not open-minded to something that is so popular everywhere else. This is one of the most frustrating things for me about being an American. I didn't like "soccer" much either until I began traveling internationally. I started learning about how tactically complex it can be, how athletic it can be, etc. It truly is "the beautiful game." I think bringing David Beckham to America will help and I do think "soccer" in America is growing, but I don't know that it will ever reach the fever pitch it has everywhere else. I could go on and on about my beliefs on this topic...
Do you have any plans wathcing a Fenerbahce game on live?
Yes, ofcourse! This would be a dream come true for me! You know, I have only been to Istanbul during the summer offseason, but I can't wait until the day I can watch Fenerbahce in person. I am hoping to come to Turkiye sometime this fall if I can get my airfare paid for somehow. If this happens, Insallah, I will be there in Kadikoy singing and cheering with everyone else! I believe if Allah wants this for me, it will happen somehow!
How your family feels about you being a turkish soccer team supporter?
Haha (laughing). My wife is very supportive and has also become a Fenerbahce fan slowly. My parents and my brother think I am crazy. They know nothing about futbol and don't really understand all of the media attention that I have received. They do understand that I love Turkiye and love this team, though. I think they are starting to realize that I am committed to working for this club one day, Insallah, so they are starting to accept it. My father would love Turkiye, so I am hoping to turn him into a fan bir gun when I can bring him to Turkiye...
I am sure there has been some changes after you met Fenerbahce, you
definitly get accustomed to turkish culture as well, what kind of
changes there has been since you met Fenerbahce?
Yes, honestly, Fenerbahce has changed my life. As strange as it sounds, Turkiye is home for my wife and I. When I was leaving Istanbul, instead of being homesick for America, I felt as if I was leaving my home. I remember on my flight back to America thinking "I have to learn Turkish because this will be my home one day." My love for Fenerbahce is more than just futbol; I love Turkiye with the same passion. Turks are the most amazing people in the world and Turkiye is the perfect mix of Europe, Asia, Islam, secularism, etc. My wife and I have definitely started preparing to become Turks! Cay, Iskender, Turk Kahvesi, etc. are all a big part of our diet! On a serious note, I know that Allah brought Turkiye into my life for a reason. I don't know the reason, but I know it will be our home one day.
What the most impresses you about Fenerbahce?
Without question, it is the fans. Fenerbahce is a great club with tremendous facilities, great leadership, wonderful business decisions, etc. However, I have no doubt that Fener has the greatest fans in the world. It is what made me fall in love with Fenerbahce. When they played in Faroe Islands, there were Fenerli's in attendance. We had fans in Syria, we had fans in England, we had fans in Holland, etc. Last week we had 500 people in New York to celebrate this great club. I am so proud to be a Fenerbahce fan, but it is a great honor for me to be a part of the Fenerbahce Cumhuriyeti because of the other great fans.
What do you think about the endless competition between Fenerbahce and
No question, I think it is the greatest derby in the world. I think only Glasgow Celtic vs. Glasgow Rangers rivals this. You know, I don't hate Galatasaray or Besiktas though. Some of my closest friends are fans of those teams. As much as I love Fenerbahce, I love Turkish futbol and for it to succeed, we need Galatasaray, Besiktas, Trabzonspor, Kayserispor, etc. to succeed. I cheer for all of those teams in European play. I would love to see the Super Lig get stronger at the bottom, and I think it will happen eventually. However, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray will always be huge. Although I don't hate Galatasaray, I always have to remind them of Fenerbahce's record against them in all sports during this past year.
What would you predict for next season?
It's still early, but I think Aziz Yildirim is definitely building a great team that can succeed in UEFA Champions League. I think Fener is not done with transfers, but I think giving Kezman help up front will be great. You don't build a champion overnight, and I don't expect to win UEFA Champions League this season. I think we can keep hammering away though, and I do think Fenerbahce will eventually achieve great European glory. We have to take care of business in the Super Lig, but it is time to make noise in Europe. I'm excited about Roberto Carlos, Wederson, and the returning squad. I just hope that I can see a game in person to enjoy their success. As long as we have President Yildirim, I don't worry about our offseason moves. I have faith that he is building a champion.