Turkish footballer Şükür builds a new life with California bakery

Once world-famous soccer player and former member of parliament Hakan Şükür told the New York Times he was now selling coffee in a bakery in Palo Alto, California as he did not play the game according to Turkish government's rules.

“I would have lived a very good life and become a minister if I had played the game accordingly, if I did what they say. But now I am selling coffee,” Şükür said.

Şükür played for Galatasaray, Torino, and Blackburn Rovers and was the top goal scorer in the Turkish league three times. He scored 51 goals for the Turkish national team and retired in 2008.

After football, Şükür became a member of parliament for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2011, but was also a disciple of the Gülen movement, a religious group Turkish government accuses of orchestrating the failed 2016 coup attempt.

Şükür left the AKP after its alliance with Gülen movement collapsed and he moved to the United States in 2015. The Turkish government issued arrest warrants for Şükür and seized his assets in Turkey after the coup attempt. His father was jailed for nearly a year for links to the Gülen movement.

Şükür now co-owns a bakery in California and has tried to build a new life.

Şükür said a friend in Turkey had recently told him that if he remained silent, he might be able to return to Turkey. 

“There are thousands and thousands of people living in this situation. I wouldn’t be so selfish to just defend my own rights, to just keep my benefits over everything else. I would lose all respect for myself,” Şükür said.


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