Hakan Sukur was an icon of Turkish football in the late 90s and 2000s but after a stint in politics in Turkey he was run out of his home country and is now an Uber driver. The former Blackburn Rovers, Inter and Galatasaray striker retired from football in 2008 after a third stint with the Istanbul based side, where he is a club legend.
In 2011 he became a member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey before leaving in 2015. He fled the country to the US in 2017 and revealed in an interview with German outlet Welt am Sonntag, via the Daily Mail, that he now drives an Uber. “I have nothing left, Erdogan took everything: my right to liberty, freedom of expression and right to work,” he explained that Turkish President Erdogan ran him out of the country with a warrant for his arrest over an alleged coup he was apparently part of.
“Nobody seems able to explain what my role in this coup was supposed to be. I never did anything illegal, I am not a traitor or a terrorist. I might be an enemy of this government, but not the state or the Turkish nation. I love my country. After the split with Erdogan, I started to receive threats. My wife’s shop was attacked, my children were harassed, my father put in prison and all my assets confiscated.”
“So I moved to the United States, initially running a cafe in California, but strange people kept coming into the bar. Now I drive for Uber and I sell books.”
It’s not the first time Erdogan has caused an uproar in football. The 65-year-old caused an uproar in 2018 when he was pictured with Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan ahead of elections in Turkey.
He wasn’t allowed to hold election campaign rallies in Germany but 1.2 million citizens in the country were still eligible to vote in the elections and the picture was seen as PR for him.
The racism that the Arsenal midfielder received following the incident led to his retirement from international football and he courted further controversy when the president was the best man at his wedding in June 2019.
It’s a shame for Sukur that he can no longer live in the country where he is rightly a footballing legend and instead is stuck in the US, driving for Uber.