Former Bayern Munich star Hamit Altintop has outlined the importance of Galatasaray’s match against Schalke for a whole community.
There is a large Turkish immigrant population in Germany and at times there has been tension between the citizens of different religious and cultural backgrounds.
Perhaps this is best exemplified in a footballing sense by Mesut Ozil’s claims following Germany’s World Cup 2018 elimination at the group stage that he was made a scapegoat for his heritage, with the Arsenal star deciding to quit the international game amid claims of institutional racism .
Altintop, who played for both Schalke and Galatasaray, as well as Real Madrid in a storied career, was born in Germany but chose to play for the national team of Turkey and has explained the passion that fixtures such as Wednesday evening's can bring.
“Games like Galatasaray vs Schalke are more than just sport in Germany,” he told Goal having highlighted Galatasaray as favourites to win. “We Turks feel at home in Germany, and with regard to history, there are always interesting matches between German and Turkish clubs.
“Integration is also an important topic. There’s a great anticipation for this game and we hope that after the final whistle there are no negative headlines.
“These matches are something very special for me.”
He admits that Turkey needs to use Germany’s footballing infrastructure as something to aim towards in the future.
“Unlike Turkey, Germany is present at every major tournament and perfectly organised,” he said. “The stadiums are outstanding, in the Bundesliga almost every game is sold out and the clubs are well placed, which makes football much more interesting. As a Turk you are not jealous of it, but you try to take the work of the Germans as a role model.
“Turkish clubs have had to follow a completely different path in the last five years due to financial fair play.
“In the past, Turkish football was considered too short term and often looked for old, big names, rather than investing in new blood. Today, we see that this behaviour has brought not only sporting, but also financial problems.
“Currently, the Turkish clubs have had to take a step down and I see no improvement in the coming years.
“Talent promotion has been our problem for decades. We Turks are football crazy and have always produced great stars in recent years. Nevertheless, we have never managed to train consistently good players.”