Tips and advice for Arda Turan!
Though Arda Turan is one of the most valued Turkish produced football players in Turkey, he is currently going through a critical period from both the people who love and support him and from those who see him as a role model. As a brother who is 10 years older than him, with much more experience, I am this week writing this open letter, which will be delivered to him through a mutual friends of ours.
Almost everyone in Turkey knows who Arda Turan is. For those local and foreign who may have not heard of him, I’d like to summarise him to you in a few sentences.
When he was being trained in the junior league of Galatasaray Football Club, he rose to fame in the Galatasaray A League. Showing an excellence of performance in the National team, after a hefty transfer fee, first he got transferred to Athletico Madrid and then to Barcelona. As the second Turkish player for Barcelona and a successful player in Turkey’s history, he had a lot of up and down performances and beyond this, at the start of this month, returning from the Macedonia game, he physically attacked journalist Bilal Mese on the plane and following this, he had to resign from the National team.
The reason for his attack against the journalist was the rumors behind players asking for more bonuses for games played for the National team and that Arda was at the head of this campaign, which journalist Bilal Mese wrote about in the paper. I’d like to share that article with you:
I’d also like to share the article regarding the attack:
A photo of Bilal Mese and Arda Turan taken together
Now, let’s come to the actual subject of this article. I am writing this article for Arda. I will enable this letter to reach him through a contact. I hope he realises that I am writing for his own good and will pay attention to my recommendations. Now I will start my letter:
Please ask about me to the person who delivered this letter to you. They can explain to you who I am. Besides being 10 years older than you, I have a serious level of life experience. I can sympathise with you, and I am aware of many things that happen in Turkey; personally I’ve seen alot and experienced alot. I’m sure you have alot of people and loved ones giving you advice about the things you have recently lived through. I know you through the press and I read about these things in the press, which I’m also sure that there is alot of different, contradicting information in what we read and what actually happens. But either way, I can see where it is sourced from so I’d like to try and help you get out of it. That’s why I chose to write this letter.
I know you must be feeling very anxious that you fell into a trap that you didnt deserve to and feeling like you were used. Your anger is increasing due to the fact that these writers took advantage of the situation and because of this, you have been belitted to this state, and infact you and your family have been offended and affected by it. I’d like for you to read the below advice in a calm state of mind to help you get out of this situation and do everything you can.
1. Dont ever dare to raise your hand to your elders.
No matter how much in the right you are, don’t dare raise your hand to your elders. Bilal Mese is over 60, but you are 30. Sometimes people lose themselves in anger and do things they normally wouldn’t. Dont ever allow for this. Be in control of your power. I would like to tell you about a situation I experienced in empathy to you. We have a place in Galatasaray’s lodge. If I’m in Istanbul, I try not to miss Galatasaray’s games. I believe I am a good supporter of Galatasaray. With 2 foreign friends, I went to the Galatasaray – Real Madrid game where Galatasaray came from behind to win 3-2. It was the worst traffic I had been through, even though I used the tunnel, it took me 2.5 hours to get from Dolmabahce to Galatasaray stadium. My American and Spanish friends were with me. With 2 minutes left for the game to start, we entered the stadiums carpark and parked in the VIP section. As we were trying to pass through the gates, the man in front of us was trying to scan his ticket on the ticket machine for about a minute. And we wanted to make it to the game before it started. The 70 year old man in front of us who was wearing a neck scarf, was acting funny. With seconds left for the game, I couldn’t help myself so I turned to the man and said ‘Sir can we scan ours and go through please?’.
Then we had this conversation:
-why is that?
-the game is about to start Sir. It took us much difficulty to enter the stadium anyway. I also have foreign guests with me. We don’t want to miss the starting whistle. I am pleading with you, can we just scan ours and go through?
-your foreign visitors are not my concern. Are you a loser or what?
-I am asking something of you in a kind decent manner, but you are being rude and offensive. You were unable to scan your card for over a minute, and we are waiting here. The match is about to start.
-I don’t care. You are going to wait (then he started yelling and screaming)
At that point, the security guard in front of us said ‘Sir, please lets not make a scene’. I was starting to get angry and it was obvious that the man had been under the influence of alcohol from the smell of his breathe and from his actions. So I said to the security guard ‘instesd of telling this alcohol induced man to ‘move over’, here you are telling me to ‘do nothing’. I asked ‘why aren’t you doing your job?’
‘Oh please just handle it for a bit’ was his answer.
I then turned around to the man and said ‘It’s obvious your alcohol induced, I can’t deal with you’ and then turned to my foreign guests and suggested we move to the next gate for entry. So we went over to the next gate and made a late entry into the stadium. The security then did his body checks and as we were taking the escalators, the same man was waiting for us there. When he saw us, he again started to insult us.
He started to say things like ‘you come here, I’m going to show you. Who are you to make comments about my alcohol consumption. Are you religious?. We’re going to kick people like you out of this country’. He kept making insults like this.
After the last things he said, I realised I was starting to get to boiling point. I was going into a bad mind space. People who know me well would know. Normally, I’m calm but even if the person in front of me was Turkey’s boxing champion, I’d go straight in and attack them.
The man was approximately in his 70’s. At that point, the voice inside me was overpowering. But suddently I saw an image of what it would look like if I attacked him. If I had punched him and broke his teeth, I imagined a photo with a headline being published like ‘Serhan Suzer, beating a 70 yeard old man in front of the Galatasary stadium’. I couldn’t do this to myself. After I calmed down, I picked myself up within a few seconds.
While I was thinking of this, the man continued to make insults. All I said to him was ‘I can’t deal with an alcoholic like you. For a man of your age, you should be embarassed’. When my foreign guests asked me ‘Serhan is everything ok?’, I replied, ‘come, let’s go upstairs’ in which we went. The man continued to scream from behind us.
The foreign guests kept insisting on asking me what was happening. I told them in summary was was happening (that it wasn’t worth dealing with people like this). Later on we witnessed a great game in the lodge. Especially the goals by Eboue and Drogba were unforgettable.
Now, do you know what I’ve wanted to tell you from this story?
Any Turk that would normally hear insults like this would have physcially attacked that man. But I couldn’t as this kind of behaviour wouldn’t suit my character. And so I wanted to give you advice: even if you were 100% in the right, there is still a proper way to fight. Physically attacking someone who is much older than you doesn’t suit you, maybe you were in the right but then ended up in the wrong. Don’t dare allow for something like this to happen again. Be in control of your actions.
2. Before returning to Spain this summer, apologise to Bilal Mese
Parallel to the advice I just gave you, before returning to Spain this summer, take a physical step forward and apologise to Bilal Mese. I don’t know what kind of journalist he is. But no matter what, it’s up to you to now restore common sense. Physically apologising to Bilal Mese will not drop your character in any way, infact on the contrary, it will elevate you and restore common sense. And do this in a quiet and patient manner. No one needs to know. It is something between only Bilal Mese and yourself. And do this in a way that we know would suit you best.
3. Stop bickering with the press
We know that the press in Turkey is quite overt. I’m not going to go into detail here. Especially the magazine and sports press are seriously distressing. In published press, the magazine and sport sections are read the most. That’s why the directors of these make room for more pages for these two sections. As they don’t get material everyday, they sometimes make up stories. And you are someone who can take place in both the magazines and sports sections. That’s why all the steps you take and don’t take are under good watch. I’m sure there are many made up stories written about you. But because you have no chance to control and change these, you need to play the game by the rules. I’d like to give you an example of a situation I experienced.
About 10 years ago, I went to an event that my twin brother Baran hosted. From the people I already knew, there was a friend of my cousins on the same table as me. For whatever reason, there were also magazine reporters at this event. The reporters who saw me chatting to my cousins friend, published a story about me chatting with her (who had the same name as another famous reporter), and then presented it to another reporter like they had written it. It was said that we were all over each other considering she was already married; the article even mentioned that they witnessed our friendly behaviour.
Fake news should at least have some backing right?. This didn’t. Firstly, I never had met that married speaker. It was impossible that I would have been all over her at an event. I haven’t met her my whole life. Secondly, the reporter who published this wasn’t even at this event. They took this article from the reporters actually there and acted like they wrote it. So in whichever way you look at it, you could see it was all a lie. We were able to get in touch with the real writer of the article and make them publish a denial letter. In some sense, we brought light to a lie told.
However, this still wasn’t enough for me. I presented a dinner for all the magazine reporters. We held this dinner at one of the best Italian restaurants at the time, Bice; in which we spoke about many topics. The reporters started their speech first in apology, ‘Our friend made a big mistake. We apologise to you on his behalf’. And I explained to them that I don’t want to be portrayed in the media in this way and only from the work I do. After this event, they didn’t mention my name in the press for up to 5-6 years. Infact after this, when I walked into restaurants, the reporters standing at the door would put their cameras down and greet me ‘Good evening Mr Serhan’.
What I meant to say is, people will treat you the way you treat them. I hosted a dinner for reporters and the paparazzi which many people bring down and insult. We had good conversations. They show me the respect in the exact same way I show these hard working people, which I might add, work in difficult conditions.
Maybe not now, but later on (time heals all wounds), I suggest you also host a dinner like this for these reporters.
4. Simplify your surroundings
There are 3 types of people; they are 'extrovert', 'introvert' and 'ambivert'. They may not have a direct translation in Turkish but in basic explanation they mean: outgoing, inward or dependent on the situation, can adapt to both. From my prediction, you have an outgoing character. You like to be social. You get fed from building communication with others. This does have advantages, but also disadvantages. We should live a balanced life. There’s nothing more natural than wanting to see your loved ones. But to consistently carry these people on your back can eventually damage a professional Barcelona football player like you.
I actually refer to this as the Acun syndrome. I first witnessed Acun to have an exaggerated living lifestyle like this. At that time, I was the General Manager of KFC and Pizza Hut. We were recording high growth. We signed up to some first time projects in Turkey. One of the first of these were 'product placement' in marketing. In the TV show Survivor, which was taking place in the Dominican Republic, we were sending the winning teams on the island KFC chicken and pizza from Pizza Hut. The contestants who were suffering from serious starvation on the island were enabling our sales to sky rocket with their reactions when they'd see our food. After the show was broadcasted on television on a Monday, we couldn’t handle the deliveries to homes on Mondays and Tuedays. The call centre phone calls would cause a jam to the lines. Even in our worst weeks of sales, we'd still have over 50% in sales increases. But of course, in return to this, we'd be paying a serious amount for sponsorship. And for the sake of recognition, product placement made a massive benefit to us. Lets come to how Acun and I met.
After we signed up to a successful campaign like this, the director of Acun Media and I were discussing the current situation when he said 'Serhan Bey, I'd like to introduce you to Mr Acun'. I accepted and a meeting was organised. As it was Ramadan, they invited us to an iftar dinner. As we may speak about business first and then move to dinner, we arrived to his office 1.5 hours before iftar as discussed. I was accompanied by our then Operations Director and Marketing Manager. When we went to his villa type office in Levent, Acun was nowhere to be seen. We waited an hour for him. He didn’t come. Later on, we sat at the table where we were to have iftar. The table was crowded. There was a lot of gag filled conversations. We found ourselves in the centre of some silly conversations. For example, when we talk about someone, I normally refer to them by their name. A person on the table asked me 'how dare you refer to him by his name'. And when I asked 'how should I refer to him', he replied 'as abi' (meaning brother). I then said, 'you’re not speaking to a child here, after the age of 30, you dont expect me to call someone 3-4 years older than me as abi'. There was a tense feeling in the air. Then I had trouble convincing people at the table that I was 30. Realising that I was getting over this silly conversation, the lady in charge of the sponsorship (she was the only normal person I had met around Acun) interviened. She introduced me to everyone and stressed that in conversation care needs to be taken. Can you imagine how ridiculous the situation we were in was? The person who is the main sponsor, being the highest executive of the firm, makes time to meet Acun, but he however shows up 1.5 hours late, and then is sat amongst 20 of his friends and I am abused verbally in this way? The lady who was in control of the sponsorship felt embarassed and apologised to us about the situation.
While there was cold winds blowing over the table, Acun showed up to dinner with sleepy eyes 5 minutes before iftar. First he couldn’t comprehend the situation. Before he even spoke to us properly, he drank his water and started to eat his meal, and then the lady at the table got up again to introduce us. In the progressing hours of the night, there was to be more decent conversations. However, if you ask me, being hosted and greeted like this as their biggest food chain sponsor and most important brand in Turkey was a true fiasco. And the reason for this fiasco was because of the friends of Acun on the table. I'm sure you'd know a few of them yourself. They may be good people. Them being there didn’t however be a benefit to Acun, infact damaging for him. Infact, it showed how amateur they were by the chain of events.
The same things apply to you. You do something professional. You play football in a world class club like Barcelona. You need to show all the professionalism required. Of course having your friends around you brings you joy, however the most important thing here that you need to focus on is quite clear: increasing your form, first by wearing a football uniform to play in the top 11 of your team and making serious contributions to your team Barcelona.
In other words, simplify your surroundings, have the ones that value you and the ones you trust around you. Of course, continue your relationship with the others but put limitations on this. In other words, don’t bother to make people happy, put that aside. Focus on your job.
5. Forget Turkey, focus on Spain
Parallel to the above, put Turkey aside as its important to focus on Spain right now. We have a fantastic culture. There are strong family and friend bonds in the country. However, let your Turkish life stay in Turkey. Live Spanish in Spain (infact the Catalan culture). For example, learn Spanish to a good spoken level (besides Spanish, someone international like you should also have to be able to speak English, focus on language and show some serious effort). Infact, if possible, learn Spanish to a level where you can be interviewed in Spanish. Please always have on the corner of your mind the importance of communication. Do whatever you can to learn their culture and to blend with the people of Barcelona. Don’t forget, playing football for Barcelona's top clubs is not for the faint hearted. Really utilise this chance. When people in the club and in the city you live in talk about you, make them say things like 'that’s our Arda'. If you strive to do this, your success will increase. People will continue to stand behind you.
6. Focus on football (answer people with your football)
In the previous point, I had said to leave Turkey behind. Leaving Turkey means to leave it all behind. For example, don’t follow the Turkish press. Don’t watch Turkish television. The more you watch and listen, the more your mind will get confused. You should focus on your job, football. You need to focus so much so, it needs to increase your performance. People should watch you in envy. From now on, instead of being the Arda who starts fights and gets involved in arguments (as I know you are not like this), be the Arda that will get everyone biting their nails with his football and the man who represents Turkey abroad in the best possible way.
7. Be humble
If you are popular, especially in a country like Turkey, they will raise you to the sky. The same can also, before you know it, bring you down. As a nation, we have a tendency to live on the edge. That’s why everything of ours is exaggerated. That’s why for somethings you need to discipline yourself. You shouldn’t grow a big ego when they raise you up nor should you lose your self-confidence when they reduce you down to the ground. Be the same Arda at heart and reflect this when you are in communication. Don’t let go of being humble and modest. Show the same love and respect to those you are in contact with. And keep a distance from those who want to attack you and have only bad intentions for you.
8. Obey the rules
As I just mentioned, a way to keep modest is not to see yourself as better than others. You may be playing football for a world class team like Barcelona, you may be very popular however, everyone that is in contact and in touch with you also has a certain level of qualification and virtue. Have respect for people.
From what I’ve read in the newspaper (of course not knowing how much it’s true, but if it is), apparently you first tried going into the aeroplane cockpit. Previously, when you tried going into the cockpit of another plane, the pilot was heavily penalised. This time, when the pilot didnt allow you to go into the cockpit, you returned to your seat angrily and attacked Bilal Mese. Additionally, I despise the fact that you would want to go to the cockpit before attacking Bilal Mese. There are rules on the plane. This is for everyone’s safety. For the sake of safety, everyone needs to obey these rules, including people who think that his doesn’t apply to them. Next time, dont ever allow yourself to drop so low while putting other peoples lives into danger.
Don’t ever think that you’re an exception. Obey the rules like a normal person. This will not reduce you as a person, on the contrary, it will elevate you.
9. Put your private life into order
Another way to remain humble is to live a humble private life. Actually, Barcelona's culture adopts this kind of lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you need to date a supermodel. The distruptions of your private life also affect your football life. Taking this thought into mind, you need to try and find someone that can allow you to have a stable relationship. Either you will find this person in Spain or bring them along with you.
10. Take Galatasaray's legend Tugay Kerimoglu as an example
When I think about putting your private life into stability, the first name that comes to my mind is Galatasaray's legend Tugay Kerimoglu. There were a lot of rumours during the time he got married to his wife Esin, who played for Galatasaray's basketball team. He never ruined his gentleman like attitude. Quietly, he moved to England and also become a legend there too. Maybe he didn’t play in a team like Barcelona but if he had the conjuncture, he would have comfortably played for a team like Real Madrid or Barcelona. He would have been legends there too. For me, I believe Tugay is one of the best football players from past to present. He had an unbelievable method of technique. We'd have much pleasure watching him. Although getting older, he managed the Blackburn Rovers team for years. The English had an amazing admiration for him in which they organised a farewell for him that you can see via this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9ihAT29tYM
An admiration like this doesn’t come for just any player. He didn’t think about anything but his football. And his wife being an ex-professional sports women was always by Tugay's side in support. I'd recommend you see him as an example. Infact, every now and then go and speak to him to benefit from his experiences.
Believe me, speaking to Tugay will benefit you more than those old players that managed to have the majority of Turkey hate them due to being an aggressive and continual fight starting player, and also from those sports reporters who have made big hits for themselves by using old footballers attitudes against them.
Tugay while playing for Blackburn Rovers
Tugay with his wife
One of the most amazing goals scored by Tugay:
11. Display behaviours that will set examples for young players (football is a stage)
Whilst I have said to take Tugay as an example, I'd like to remind you of the examples you need to set for those after you. Don’t forget that football is not just a game, football is a stage. The projector is always on the players. What they do is continually followed step by step. You have the strength to put things into notion for young footballers that admire and want to be like you. Knowing this responsibility, you need to always be an example by behaving in that way. If someone like you attacks people and starts fights, your supporters or the young people who watch you will also have a violent tendency. We already have an anxious nation of people and this kind of behaviour will only damage it further. In short, only display behaviours to be a good example to everyone. This will also be a benefit to the country.
12. Stay away from politics
As we said that football is a stage and you need to be an example, I'd like to also warn you to stay away from politics. As you are a popular icon in Turkey who has the power to effect people, don’t use this power in a negative way. Because of the conjunctures in Turkey, you will divide the people who love or don’t love you into two, due to politics. The political environment in Turkey is going through a rough time. No matter what your thoughts about this are, keep it to yourself and don’t choose sides. You have becme a product of Turkey so you need to act beyond politics.
13. Show your respect to the National team not in words but in deeds
Being a product of Turkey also requires responsibility. The national team is the most sacred football uniform. Even sweating in this uniform is a big honor. Instead of earning money from playing in the national team (salary/bonus), you need to pay money on top. If I was in your place, I would donate all the money I earned from playing in the national team (salary/bonus) to the Mehmetcik Charity or other charities like a Civil Society Organisation (CSO). I’m not sure if the things they write about this is true or not, but you'd need to act in this way.
14. Have an active role in a civil community activity
Do this not for show but because you genuinely want to. Taking a role like this in a CSO and making continual donations whether they be financial or not will only elevate you. Don’t see the donations that you make to CSO's as just money;. Life is actually one big karma. Making donations in the name of humanity will come back to you in many ways. Find ammunition for yourself that will drive you. And in order to solve this, make donations to the most effective CSO. Do this from within and support it to the very end.
15. Manage your in-goings and out-goings well (tighten your expenses)
I read in an article that your monthly salary was 80,000tl. If this is correct, this figure is relatively high for you and footballers like you. You don’t have a wife or kids and it wouldn’t even make a difference if you were supporting others. Get rid of the extras and bring down your spending to a reasonable level. Don’t forget that in the future (which is not too far away, most likely 5-7 years away), when your football career ends, you have the possibility of not doing anything and therefore have some savings. That’s why you need to know how to keep your money or at least speak to someone who knows how to. If you don’t do this, you will suffer many problems after your football career. Infact if you have unnecessary expenses, you will even struggle with these in a time where you earn serious money. Don’t forget if you start having money problems in this period of your life, you will be subject to concentration issues and this will effect your football life negatively.
16. Think about life after football
Make all your plans for the long-term. For example, plan on what you will do when your football career ends. And be sure to make these plans not with your close friends but with people in your business life who have been successful in this way. There is a benefit to be mentored by people who can successfully guide you in this way.
These are the first things that came to my mind as recommendations for you. I hope you will read about my suggestions till the end and take the things I said to you as things for your benefit, which may guide you to think and allow you to take the required steps of effort. If you'd like to talk in detail, you know how to contact me.