Emre: “I will give my all at Atlético”

The veteran midfielder snubbed more lucrative offers in order to suit up in red & white


Emre takes in Atleti's rich history at club museum

Shortly after putting pen to paper on his two-year contract at Atletico, Emre Belözoglu gave his first interview on Spanish soil to Madrid-based newspaper AS.

The Turkish midfielder spoke to the Spanish daily’s Özgür Sancar, shedding light on his first impressions of his new club, on why he passed up on bigger wages elsewhere to play for Atleti, and on what he has to offer, among other topics.

The interview can be found in its originally published format on AS’ website here.

On his thoughts freshly upon becoming a new Atlético player
I’ve been signed by one of the biggest clubs of Spain and I’m very proud of that. I want to thank everyone involved in the transfer. I’m very excited. It’s a new beginning in Europe for me. After Newcastle I went to Fenerbahçe for four seasons and now I’ve been presented with this great window of opportunities that is Atleti. I made the decision to come thinking it was the best thing for my family and me, and seeing all the interest my signing has caused, now I have no doubts.

On why he passed up on higher wages to play for Atleti
I never placed a lot of importance on the financial aspect of my contracts. In fact, all of the other offers made to me were for a higher salary. But Atleti allowed me to continue playing in Europe and, also, get to know La Liga. After consulting with my family and friends, I didn’t dwell on it any longer.

I’m convinced that I can still play three more seasons at the highest level, and Atlético allow me to compete at one of Europe’s greatest clubs. Last season they won the Europa League by signing important players like Arda. He is like a brother to me and his presence on the team makes the move to Madrid a lot easier for me. We have a fantastic relationship with each other.

On the traditionally very high expectations that come with joining Atleti
[I’m definitely aware of them]. Atlético are the biggest club in Spain after Barça and Real Madrid. Barcelona and Real Madrid compete for everything, but they have much more financial power. To be an Atlético is a great opportunity. What else can I ask for? I am aware of the expectations people have of me and I’m sure I will respond to them positively. I feel very strong. The people at the club have shown a lot of faith in me. Simeone has already written messages to me wishing me luck and telling me he has a lot of faith in me. I hope that with Arda, Sahin, Topal and Altintop we offer a good image of Turkey in La Liga.

On his dinner with Rojiblanco directors on the night of his arrival in Madrid
We didn’t speak much about football. With regard to sporting matters, they only told me that they have a lot of faith that I will perform well. They asked me what I lacked in order to move and integrate myself into the city. They told me that they will always be there to help me with whatever I need. I believe I always gave my all during my time at Galatasaray, Inter, Newcastle, Fenerbahçe, and at Atlético it will be the same. Fenerbahçe is my childhood club and I had always dreamed of playing there. Now, I’ve signed up for two seasons with Atleti and I am once again very happy.

On facing off against ‘El Cholo’ back in the 2001/02 season in Italy when Simeone played for Lazio while Emre played for Inter–the Argentine tactician scored a header that cost the Nerazzurri the Scudetto
Yes, it’s true. I played against Simeone, a sign that I am getting somewhat older (he laughs). This is one of the reasons why Simeone knows me well and I hope that we achieve a lot of success together.

On the competition for a spot in the Colchonero midfield
Nowadays, European giants play 60 matches per season. I am convinced that I will play at least 30 or 35. I believe I will end up playing in the starting XI. If I did not believe I could be a starter, I would not have come to Madrid. Of course, there are players with a lot of talent at Atleti. They are the Europa League champions. They are also a very young squad and that will be something new to me. My main goal for the season is to qualify for the Champions League.

On his opinion of Arda’s first season in La Liga
Arda played a good season but I know he could have done a lot more. I watched almost all his games. He is like a little brother. His presence on the club motivates me a lot as I arrive to the team and to Spain. I am sure my presence will motivate him as well. I will share my experience with him. If he manages to focus solely on football he will become an Atlético and Turkish legend.

On Atleti’s growing Turkish contingent, also considering the club’s rumoured interest in forward Burak Yilmaz
When my agents told me about Atleti’s interest, it made me very happy. I am sure that for the people of Turkey it will be a source of joy and the club’s brand will be stronger in the country. Atlético will become big in Turkey.

Get to know the English-speaking Emre even better by checking out this video posted on Atlético’s official website: “Emre’s first impressions

  • palc

    I just can’t take this signing seriosuly. Even though Emre at his prime is probably our best central midfielder. I hope he can play somewhat close to what he is capable of.

  • DJ

    simply awful, deep down every athletico knows it.

  • FancyFartPants

    i understand that many fans dont take this seriously, you guys expect better players but emre is at least good as any other DM or CM on atletico madrid.. he does not have to be in the starting eleven.. if he proves himself it will happen so.. just like the same it was with arda. he first proved himself, i am sure emre will do it too, have a little faith .. that is where many atletico fans failed at last season. FAITH

  • Dircil

    u r so optimistic :). Hope that your words come true. I hope Emre will prove himself too 🙂

  • shlomgar

    I said it a few weeks ago and I’ll say it again, our players are good, leader Gabi is courageous and with no Pep next year we have the best motivator on lines. We have the ingredients for a lovely next season. We are two big signing away from challenging big two for titles. Those last two are definitely not the ones but will add to us nonetheless.

    I’m an optimist yeah, but really look at our last season’s losses and draws and you’ll see, we are not that far from it.

  • Ringo

    Maybe he already was the best motivator, he just didn’t have preseason and the same stars. Look, we have Falcao, Arda and Adrian, but Pep also had his midfielders who were intelligent by themselves and understood eachother very well.

    I hope having Simeone for the whole season makes the players even better and increases the newfound team spirit even more.

    Emre could be very important. Gabi, Tiago, Koke and Mario were okay last season, but improvement is needed. Mario and Koke (especially the latter) have room to grow, but the others are very close to their best, so a new signing like this is very useful, even if it’s just to keep Gabi sharp. Plus, even though he has his great moments, I’m not the biggest fan of Tiago’s, so replacing him sounds good to me and Emre has better stamina and a higher work rate, I believe?

    Emre/Gabi/Koke/Mario for the 2 spots sounds good to me.

  • ali_

    yeah, 4-5 player for 2 spots good indeed, especially if we wanna fight for CL places. also there will be the spanish cup. and EL. honestly i hope that we wont take EL too seriously, we won it twice from 3 times, so we should step up definietly.

  • David

    Arda and Emre both played in a friendly today for Turkey against Portugal.

    The Final result was: Turkey 3 – Portugal 1

  • Javi Lozoya

    Emre conceded a PK if i’m not mistaken and Godin an own goal for Uruguay against Venezuela in Montevideo at the mystical Centenario.

  • Erwinito

    La Real starring ‘Karate Pepe’ & ‘Cry Baby Ronaldo’ – Atlético = 1 – 3 :))


  • FancyFartPants

    emre conceded a penalty,,, but in general he played very good, it was a friendly game but the tempo was frikkin high… emre ran as the mothafacka.

  • @ DJ Hush yuh mouth boy.

    @All others.

    It wasn’t the greatest signing but he played well vs portugal even though he conceded a penalty and godin i say sell him get some cash and buy some big players :D.

  • Dircil

    @Randy German: “Atletico Madrid still owe Porto €28.6 million from Falcao & Micael transfers – report”. There is no way we can buy a new player 🙂
    Source: http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2012/06/02/3143618/atletico-madrid-still-owe-porto-286-million-from-falcao

  • k14

    All transfer fees are payed over agreed set of payments.
    In my opinion, all this talk about no money and Falcao sale is just an immature strategy to satisfy the fans thirst for big transfer, by giving a mirage of the achievement of retaining Falcao.

    I also think Diego is still an option, they just wanna keep the pressure on Wolfs, as they won’t shell out more than 10m.

    On the other hand, I like the signings so far, decent players for free, my favorite kind. I also believe that Salvio, D.Costa(already had an offer over 5mil?) and Raul Garcia should be sold (all decent players, but we have replacements now) and go for Yilmaz (5m buyout) who has an EU passport. With that we can get two more good quality cheap south american squad players.

  • Dircil

    Salvio is very good, shouldnt we sell him for some nominal money? If there is someone should be sacrificed to save the rest of the squad, Godin should be the first name as his market value is around 12mil and Liverpool is keen on bringing him to Anfield.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Agreed Dircil. If Benfica want him they better pay at least 20M or nothing. No joke. I’m tired of everyone going easy on Atleti and of these stupid Portuguese buyout clauses. No offense to anyone. I mean, Sporting are asking 30M for Capel, Diego Capel…, why Atleti can’t just do the same with Salvio?. Salvio is way better than Capel. Atleti should negotiate better, like the Portuguese, but I guess the board won’t. I would for sure.

  • Dircil

    If we can not find any good playmaker in this summer period, it is likely that our club formation will be changed to 4-4-2 with Arda and Salvio as wingers and Gabi and Mario or Koke as CM. How cool it is :))

  • Dircil

    By the way we’ve got 2 good Full-back Juanfran and Filipe that can assist wing attack effectively. During the end of the previous season, both of them proved to be very vicious along the right and left flank. Btw, 4-4-2 can be a very balanced formation that suit our situation right now, I mean in case we have no decent playmaker.

  • Javi Lozoya

    That formation used to work wonders for us in the past. With that scheme Atleti qualified twice for Champions League and won the Europa League. I personally prefer the 4-2-3-1 formation, but I assume that will depend solely on Cholo.

  • Shlomgar

    I hate to break it to you but Falcao doesn’t do double strikers. He is rubbish without space to move in and must have all focus on him to shine.

    Whatever we’ll be our squad next year, as long as Falcao stays, Atleti will play 4-2-3-1, or 4-3-3, or even 3-4-2-1 but never 4-4-2.

  • Arjit

    I completely agree with k14, i like salvio but does nobody else notice how little end product he has for majority of the time? He’s getting better yes, he scored some good goals this year but he’s such a one dimensional player, he has all this speed but not much technique, reminds me of walcott. He really doesn’t fit with the way the team plays. On the more obvious side, raul garcia and costa both just seem to play better outside of atletico so it should benefit both parties if they are sold. Get godin to leave too, then keep diego and buy yilmaz, maybe pay off porto if necessary, then botia possibly?

  • Shlomgar

    Though clumsy at times, Godin is the most experienced defender we have on our squad. Getting rid of him should only be followed by a signing of a Center Back of Vidic’s caliber if we want to keep our last year defensive ability. Since that’s not going to happen we should keep his Slippingness

  • Javi Lozoya

    You sure about Falcao not doing double strikers?. ‘Cause his career started playing as a second striker and he has played with other strikers performing well. FYI he played alongside Loco Abreu while at River Plate with Simeone leading them.
    I doubt he won’t perform good with another striker. I any case he has to adapt to the team’s formation and not the team to him.
    The 4-4-2 system was just a suggestion, nobody is saying it’s going to happen or not, you don’t decide the team formation whether is a 4-2-3-1, or 4-3-3, or even 3-4-2-1, like I said, Cholo does.

  • Yon

    4-4-2 could easily be changed yo 4-4-1-1 with Adrian just behind Radamel!

  • FancyFartPants

    Burak Yilmaz is no central forward… in better leagues like primera division he can be a good second forward, but if atletico plays with 1 striker, he will be not so good as playin 1 striker, thats what i have analyzed last season of him. he is good no doubt, but then the tactic must be with 2 strikers. he will be very good then.

  • Turkish Football Fan

    Sure he will!

    Emre is a racist, managed to get away may times from his racists acts in the pitch.

    Emre should not appear in the pitch at all!

    Here is his last racist action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDz9vfI0Tkc

    He does not deserve to be anywhere and of course not in La Liga.

  • k14

    @ Turkish Football Fan,

    I don’t believe just saying those words makes someone racist, eventhough the words in itself racist.
    People should be judged by their behavior, not just a single mistake, and how those players kicked him is a more serious matter, and I wish they were banned for it.

  • Turkish Football Fan


    It is not just an act. As I saşd before he has been acting many times like that in Europe and in Turkey.

    He has been finally seeing a therapist for anger management.

    He is the one who caused the Turkish national team’s almost banned from any competitions in 2003. His bestiality towards the Swiss players after the mathch that we could not win.

    He was in the heaven when he was playing for Fenerbahce who is the mafia of the Turkish football. He was free to continue his inhuman behaviours in the pitch.

    Emre should not be any part of spot activities at all. Just being able to have a good midfielder for free should not make you support such personalities. That would devalue your reputation.

    And lastly, if it is about racism, your first reaction should have been questioning the person, not try to clear him.
    We have to be extremely careful about it and to always remember ‘Zero Tolerans’.

    We are happy to get rid of Emre. We hope the same for others…

  • Halil

    I have to say that Emre is the second best mid-fielder Turkey has ever gotten. 1st is Sergen, but Emre is my favoerite turkish player.

    Just wait, he will shine in madrid.