Saying Goodbye To A Legend
Sunday May 24th will mark a very special moment in the lives of all Rovers fans as a great club servant, the Turkish 'Maestro' Tugay leaves the club at the age of 38.
Tugay joined Rovers from Glasgow Rangers in 2001 for a bargain £1.2 million, bought to the club by Graeme Souness. Little did Graeme know at the time that Tugay would outlast him and 2 other managers at the club. Now whilst that doesn't sound that impressive bare in mind that Souness was at Rovers 3 and a half years and the same goes for successor Mark Hughes.
Tugay is a rare example of a modern footballer. He has been with Rovers for 8 years and has turned down big money moves elsewhere THREE times to stay at the club he loves. This is even more amazing when you consider that clubs the size of Rovers that cannot compete with the big money wages that other clubs can throw at players really struggle to hold onto their big name players.
Can you see mercenaries like David Bentley and Craig Bellamy doing this?... no thought not. It's called loyalty and it is in short supply in footballers of the 21st century.
Tugay is also a special brand of player. He has never been one to bust a gut or go box to box but he makes space for himself by his body movement and mesmerizing touch with the ball at his feet. He rarely leaves the centre circle if truth be told but he really doesn't need to, his passing creates the chances for offensive players and I have never seen a player pass a ball long and with such accuracy as the Turk.
Yes I include much more lauded players such as Xabi Alonso and Paul Scholes in that statment.
A very quiet family man, Tugay rarely speaks publicly but my favourite Tugay quote comes from two ex-Man United players.
After a Blackburn v Man United game Mark Hughes and Sir Alex Ferguson sat down for a glass of wine and Alex Ferguson asked Mark Hughes if he wished Tugay was 26 and not 36? Hughes' response was 'No, because then he would be playing for you and not for me....' Alex agreed with this statement, a true testament to the ability of Tugay and never have truer words been spoken.
The Maestro clearly loves the Ewood fans as well as at the end of every game he is always the last one round the pitch clapping everyone and soaking up the adulation - quite frankly because he deserves it. His Blackburn career has run a paralell with another Rovers great, Brad Friedel. Now whilst we never really got a chance to say goodbye to Brad we will have a chance to say goodbye to the most loyal of all Rovers players.The volley against Spurs at Ewood.
The direct hit from the corner against Fulham.
Every raking 40 yard ball to feet.
And a man that plays for the badge and the club with such pride that it should make every other player in the Premier League have a good long hard look at themselves.
Make sure if you are at Ewood Park on Sunday, like myself, that you show your respect and your gratitude to one of the best players ever to wear the blue and white.Tugay, you are my Turkish Delight...