Hakan Sukur, Turkey’s FIFA 2002 World Cup star, has confessed that he now drives for Uber to make ends meet, after he was exiled from the country.
Sukur, 48, a former Inter Milan and Galatasaray striker, who led Turkey to a third place finish at the tournament hosted by both South Korea and Japan, also revealed that he also sells book to survive.
Things took a dramatic turn for Sukur after retirement, when he entered politics and was elected to Parliament. However, he fell out with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2011.
Sukur, along with many others, were accused of participating in a failed coup, prompting him to go into exile.
Speaking to German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, Sukur said:
“I have nothing left, Erdogan took everything: my right to liberty, freedom of expression and right to work.
“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 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 café in California, but strange people kept coming into the bar. Now I drive for Uber and I sell books.”
Sukur played a key role as Galatasaray beat Arsenal in the final of the UEFA Cup, now Europa League, in 2000, becoming the first Turkish club to achieve the feat.
On 29 June, 2002, he scored the fastest ever goal in a FIFA World Cup, netting against South Korea 10.8 seconds into the third-place play-off, which his country won 3-2 to pick up bronze at the mundial.