A young Ghanaian footballer’s dream of walking straight into a club in Turkey has rather landed him stranded as he leaves on the benevolence of the local municipality.

With his name given a just Aziq, the 18 year-old player like many other African players was lured to Turkey with promised contracts with Turkish clubs having failed to materialise.

Aziq arrived in January after stumping up $2,500 to an agent from Ghana for a “contract”.

But together with other African players, they gather three times a week to train in the hope that passing scouts from the capital’s big three teams, Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, might pick them up and usher them into the privileged world of professional football.

The Beleyedi municipality lends the players the pitch, provides some kit and even offers food at the end of training, municipal mayor Mustafa Demir having launched the initiative to “help these young African players find a club in Turkey”, according to Hayrettin Yazici, head of the municipality’s sports department.

“I just want to leave,” the Ghanaian youngster said.

“I was bought a plane ticket and visa. The agent told me to go along to this club in Istanbul and there’d be someone waiting for me.

“I went along but no one had even heard of me.”

Aziq is not alone as Nigerian, John Takpe faces the same situation.

Takpe, who coaches the other boys touched down in Istanbul six months ago after being promised a job in Turkey after having helped out as a volunteer at a Besiktas “academy” in Ibadan, 150km north of Lagos.

“I have a wife and two daughters, aged nine and seven, back home. But I can’t go home,” Takpe told AFP, wiping the sweat from his brow and slipping his clothes back over his training kit after the end of the two-hour session.

“I have no money to buy a ticket, I have no papers. I’m stuck but also lucky that I work a few hours a week hauling cargo, that at least gives me something for my wallet.

“I’m here in the hope that I manage to get a professional contract as a coach. I want to be a proper coach but at the moment I’m a coach who sleeps in the same room as God knows how many of my players.”

Takpe acknowledges that of the 22 players in his squad, “10 were good, and five were very good, capable of making it in Turkey”.

Yazici, of the municipality, who sees to their daily upkeep is eager to see them secure moves to clubs.

“We want them playing for Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray or Trabzonspor,” Yazici told AFP.


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