There's Only One...Tugay
Full Name: Tugay Kerimoglu
Date of Birth: 24th August 1970, Trabzon
Squad Number: 5
Internationals: 92 Caps, 2 Goals for Turkey (1990-2003)
Signed: June 2001
Previous Clubs: Galatasaray (Turkey) & Glasgow Rangers
When Tugay arrived at Blackburn Rovers in June 2001 surely few genuinely felt he would have the impact he has on Ewood Park? His legacy will live on long after he does leave... hopefully some time down the line yet!
Some suggest that Tugay began his career in his native Turkey with Trabzonspor in 1988 but I find little record of this with it more likely that as more widely regarded he started with Galatasaray coming through their youth set-up making his debut in the 1989-1990 season.
Whilst with the Turkish giants he won a host of domestic honours also beginning his long and distinguished International career in his debut season, this came in 1990.
The first of nine domestic honours with Galatasaray came in 1991 when he won the Turkish Cup (Fortis Cup) winning the trophy on a further three occasions in 1993, 1996 and 1999. The first of six Turkish Premier Super League Titles came in 1993 and a further four followed in 1994, 1997, 1998 and 1999.
At the start of the 1992-1993 season Tugay was appointed Galatasaray captain, which made him the clubs youngest ever captain and he was to lead them to his first Title. Galatasaray's success made European football a regular feature for their star midfielder with him amassing an impressive 52 European appearances with the club.
Regularly linked to other top European sides having played close to 290 games for Galatasaray scoring an impressive 43 goals he somewhat surprisingly transferred to Glasgow Rangers late in 1999 (not that I`m for one minute suggesting that they are not a top club!)
His time in Scotland saw him add further medals to his impressive collection in his first season. Being part of the squad for the remainder of the 1999-2000 season saw him and Rangers win the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Cup.
Following a successful half season in Scotland he joined up with Turkey as they headed off for the 2000 European Championship Finals in Holland and Belgium. Despite some good showings Turkey made an early exit but not before Tugay made an even earlier one! Tugay was thrown out of the Turkish squad, being sent home from the tournament in disgrace after throwing a tantrum after being substituted.
His one and only full season with the Ibrox club, 2000-2001 saw him complete the domestic honours list in Scotland as Rangers lifted the 2001 Scottish League Cup, the only success for the club that season.
With Rovers gaining promotion back to the Premiership at the end of the 2000-2001 season Graeme Souness went in search of quality, experienced footballers. The likes of Brad Friedel arrived (having worked with Souness at Galatasaray) and Souness' ties with another former club in Rangers and the fact he had also worked with Tugay before enabled him to bring the Turk to England and he transferred to Ewood Park in the summer of 2001 for £1.3 million in June. Little did we know then just how much we would get for so little!
In Tugay as I say Souness picked up another player he knew very well from his own time as Tugay's manager with Galatasaray in the mid 1990's. The signing of the then Turkish International proved to be one of the best, if not the best signings made by Souness during his time with Rovers although the arrival of Friedel could rival this claim.
Tugay's debut season of 2001-2002 saw him in fine form, his own debut coming against Southampton with his first Rovers goal, a typical out of the area finish coming in a 7-1 mauling of West Ham United in the Premiership. That season saw Tugay win a second successive League Cup; following up his previous years Scottish League Cup win with a Worthington Cup win with Rovers in 2002.
After playing himself not only into automatic squad but also first team selection he was a part of the Turkish side that finished the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and Korea in fourth place. Many thought that the 2002 World Cup would prove Tugay's swansong on the International stage, with the player himself also hinting at this but it wasn`t to be.
Tugay carried on playing for his country for another year however but Turkey's failure to make the 2004 European Championships, losing a play-off in 2003 having finished behind England in the group saw time once and for all called on his International career, which was a real shame from his point of view as his 2003-2004 season saw form (gaining him the Rovers Player of the Year Award for 2003-2004) worthy of an appearance on the Finals stage of a major International tournament.
So having first gained International recognition in 1990 during his first season with Galatasaray the end of 2003 and a European Championship Finals Play-off defeat saw it end with him ending only eight caps short of 100 finishing with 92. The fact that he ended his International career has probably, and will continue to prolong his club career.
With Rovers looking for Tugay to continue his fine form of the previous year we were dealt a setback during the summer of 2004 as Tugay was knocked off his bicycle. Thankfully it didn't cause too much of a problem and he regained fitness ahead of the start of the 2004-2005 season.
His consistency combined with his range of passing, which is at times breath taking and his tough tackling; no holding back approach makes him the fans favourite he is. He also has an eye for goal, and wonder goals at that as many a goalkeeper knows to his cost!
Although he doesn't scored as many as he once used to most, if not all are fantastic goals with two of the very best coming in November 2006 with his strikes against FC Basel in the UEFA Cup, a 35-yard stunner following his own initial good work to create the opening and his even more stunning 25-yard volley that is likely to be a Goal of the Season contender against Tottenham Hotspur coming a few weeks later.
Despite now being in the twilight of his career, something that former manager Graeme Souness had believed some time ago as he was only willing to offer a year-long contract when he wanted a longer deal, some three-years and three contract extensions later he remains as instrumental to the clubs as ever, if not more so! Generally when Tugay plays well Rovers play well.
Already a Rovers legend who will without doubt go down as an all time great not only in ours but also Turkish and World Football's histories once his time as a player finally does come to an end, which if he continues to perform like he has been thus far during the early months of the 2006-2007 season (which makes him a very likely winner of the 2006-2007 Player of the Season!) will be some time away yet.
Tugay, generally a man of few words despite being able to speak very good English and having a superb sense of humour recently said in a rare interview after the FC Basel game that he would like to play until he is 40-years-old so at a mere 36 we still have another 4-years of Tugay to look forward to... all being well!
The above information is as accurate to my knowledge as possible, up to and including 24th November 2006.
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