England supporters may have missed out on the opportunity to support their home country in this summerâ€™s European Championships, but any Sheffield United fans following the tournament will no doubt find one of only two English players on display rather familiar.
Colin Kazim-Richards, otherwise known by his Turkish name KÃ¢zÄ±m-KÃ¢zÄ±m, was born in Leytonstone, London and spent almost a year at Bramall Lane after Neil Warnock took him from Brighton and Hove Albionâ€™s reserves to the Premier League for Â£250,000. Now, Kazim-Richards will star for his adopted country in the last four of Euro 2008 after their dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Croatia this evening. The other Englishman in the tournament is Italy’s Simone Perotta, born in Ashton-under-Lyne.
â€œAll the lads in the dressing room were singing songs in Turkish, I didnâ€™t have a clue what they were singing â€“ I just jumped up and down to the beat!â€, Kazim-Richardâ€™s said after the game. â€œMy Turkish is coming on leaps and bounds, at FenerbahÃ§e thereâ€™s four translators so you donâ€™t really have to speak Turkish, but I am trying to learn it.â€
Kazim-Richards in his Turkey shirt….
Following The Bladesâ€™ relegation Kazim-Richardâ€™s fairytale story continued with his move to FenerbahÃ§e, where he scored in the Champions League against Chelsea. Eligible to play for Turkey due to his motherâ€™s Turkish-Cypriot nationality, the former Bury man went on to make his international debut against Brazil.
â€œAfter I played for Turkey last season against Brazil, I got a call saying FenerbahÃ§e were interested,â€ he explained. â€œNeil Warnock had left Sheffield United, and the new management team didnâ€™t seem that interested in me.
â€œIâ€™d dreamed of Champions League football and when I met Zico (FenerbahÃ§eâ€™s then coach) there was no going back.â€
…and celebrating his only goal in his Bramall Lane days.
Despite an impressive start to his career at the ÅžÃ¼krÃ¼ SaracoÄŸlu Stadium in Istanbul, reports have linked Kazim with a move back â€˜homeâ€™ to England. Although stopping short of dismissing the speculation, he admitted: â€œI donâ€™t know what the future is. With respect, Turkey is not as good domestically as England and Spain and I want to prove myself against the best, so after the European Championships weâ€™ll sit down and discuss the futureâ€.
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