Chelsea’s teenage winger Gokhan Tore recently gave an interview with the Turkish Football Federation website on his career so far and his experiences at Chelsea. Here, for you, is a translation of the interview, hopefully not too badly done. If you happen to read the Turkish version and can improve on anything here, feel free to leave a comment.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself Gokhan
I was born January 2nd, 1992 in Cologne, Germany. My family are originally from Samsun in Turkey. I am one of three children, one is an 8 year-old boy and the other a 13 year-old sister. Both are at school, whilst my father is a flight engineer.
Did your father get you into football?
Not at all, my late grandfather got me started in football. He already lived in Germany and I grew up next to my grandparents. He used to play in the park. I saw his talent, he played two years at Bayer Leverkusen whilst I was in the youth system. I joined in 1999 and after ten years at the club, I moved to Chelsea. I have to say, I had a grandfather to thank God for. We lived next door to eachother, and we were so close he was almost like a father to me.
Have you always played in your current position?
When I first started I only played on the left, now I can play on the right or behind the striker. I’m left handed but I can use both feet, that’s why it doesn’t matter too much where I play.
Did the facilities and infrastructure in Germany give you something extra? Would you have been the same player had you grown up in Turkey?
I don’t want to say anything negative about Turkey. But it is also a fact that the German system is much more disciplined. Their training methods, their physical development, it’s much different. When you look at players who are of Turkish origin but grew up in Germany – Yildiray Basturk, Halil and Hamit Altintop – they are so much physically more powerful and have a better tactical and mental understanding of the game. Therefore I believe I have had an advantage in developing in Germany.
Meanwhile, Leverkusen has a special structure as well, true?
Bayer Leverkusen has the best youth setup in Germany. Other teams cannot understand how, despite investigating heavily. Maybe they don’t produce a lot of first team players, but look at the origins of a lot of players around the Bundesliga and you find they came through the ranks at Leverkusen. The club is extremely professional about their work. The physical strength and technical capacity of the players is a serious matter and they are very focused on the work they do to improve these areas. They also considered my eduction, so I would have a solid foundation for my next career.
Do you have any idols or players you look up to?
When I was little I didn’t have one, but now I like Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi. I would consider my style of play to be similar to theirs.
How do you evaluate the style of coaching in England?
Coaches will vary from person to person, everyone has a different perspective. I like the coaching of Hami, Abdullah or even aspects of Ferhat. But I can also tell that I am a player who is suited to English football and to Chelsea, so I made the move. It demands great technique, pace and strength, all of which I have. I can also use both feet. The strength of the British players is on the wings – when you’re fast and strong you’re considered perfect for the role.
Tell us how you came to move to Chelsea.
Chelsea had been following me for a year and a half. During this time I got interest from Spanish clubs; Barcelona and Valencia both wanted me. I sat down with my agent and discussed it, the world’s best league is the English league and that’s why we accepted the offer from Chelsea. They play a strong, fast style their and we thought we could take that to anywhere in the world. It’s also important that it was a move to England, as English is a universal language.
Was staying at Leverkusen for one or two more years not an option? You could have played for a season or two and then moved to a bigger team?
I trained with Leverkusen’s first team but only ever played youth and reserve football. During my transfer I evaluated my chances of playing in the first team, it’s likely I could have had a couple of games here and there. But my dream isn’t to be a normal footballer, I want to be a star. For this reason I couldnt turn down Chelsea’s bid.
What differences have you noticed between English and German football?
British football features a great speed and tempo with one-touch passing. They don’t embrace dribbling so much, so the first two months were a bit hard for me to, as I couldn’t adapt. But things have gone better since then and I have adapted now.
Chelsea uses you in the reserves, right?
I train with the first team but play with the reserves, the season has just started. In my first reserve game I got two assists.
Do you think you can play in the first team?
Chelsea bought me for the first team, I train with the first team, I have a shirt number (48). I’m trying to break in the 18-player match day squad. But I go to the games with the squad and sit behind the subs. I always feel like a member of the team and I believe I can break into the first team this year.
Florent Malouda, star of the French national team, plays in your position. He is the player you have to get ahead of to play in the first team?
There are a number of attacking positions in the team but I like the left wing position most. Therefore Malouda is the most important ‘rival’ to me.
How do you compare yourself to him?
I am faster and more technically skilful then him, but he has a lot of international experience and is a very good player. Ancelotti prefers more experienced players.
How is your relationship with Ancelotti?
Ancelotti talks like a lot of the Italian players and loves trying new tactics. He tells me “you are a good footballer but you are still young and have far to go. I dont want 100%, I want 150% or 200%”.
Where do you live?
I have a two-floor house, the club pays the rent. I live there alone.
You have already come this far at such a young age, people are asking “where next”…
To tell you the truth, I really enjoy English football. To play in the world’s best league with one of the world’s best clubs is amazing. I came here young but I have far to go. I want to break into the first team first. After 3 or 4 seasons of playing this level, players don’t have too many options for higher levels. After that time, maybe it would have to be Barcelona or Real Madrid.
What is your relationship with the Chelsea players? Who are your friends?
I live next to Salomon Kalou. We go out and spend time together, we play PlayStation. Essien, Ferreira, Joe Cole are all great as well. All of them are stars, but they’re great people. There’s never an attitude of “I’m the star, you’re the youngster, know your place” here. I know from playing with my friends in the national team that this is not the case at other clubs. At Chelsea, everyone is a world star but they don’t act that way. In training if you do well they’ll encourage you, telling you “well done, you’re doing really well, keep it up”. This is a great thing, it builds morale and confidence in the youngsters.
Do you like any players from the Turkish League?
I like Arda Turan the most. He is a special talent. I think he can play at Europe’s biggest teams.
You have always represented a higher age group. Whilst it feels great to play above your age, does it affect performance?
Yes, as you say, I was 15 when I played in the Under-17s. Now at 17 I’m playing in the Under-21s. This increases my self-confidence – I can’t stand still, I have to keep going, and I understand that going forward.
To what do you owe your physical strength?
A little of it is genetic, a little is basic nutrition, but I think it’s actually because of training. Because I do really heavy training I feel stronger with every passing day.
You were born and raised in Germany, but you have chosen to represent Turkey. Why?
Turkey wanted me and I’m playing for my country. It can’t be put any simpler than that.
Did the Germans not show an interest?
In the beginning they didnt, but they do now. Horst Hrubesch calls me once a month now and asks “What do you think? Come and play with us” but I have always said no.
When do you see yourself ready to play for the national team?
To be honest I think I’m ready right now. But if I work a little harder, and get into the Chelsea first team, I could be a much better player for the team.
Do you have a bit of a short temper on the pitch?
In the past, that was definitely the case. I am a professional, but by watching others at Chelsea, I have learned to restrain myself. Not only in the way they act, but the lessons they are trying to teach me. I am learning how to act as a star on the field.
How does a star act?
They act highly professionally. What do you do if the opponent or spectator abuses you? You go out and do your job. For me, at this age, to live and work with these quality people is a great chance to learn what it takes to be a professional.
Who is the most professional player at Chelsea?
They all are, but John Terry is a level above anyone. He’s a very different person, everyone sees him as their brother. Drogba is older but Terry is the leader. Because he came through the youth ranks at the club, he has a greater authority. He tells you what Chelsea is all about – he can even influence the manager’s decisions.
What are your interests outside of football?
I chat to my friends on the computer. I like to listen to music, and I like to buy things. London is brilliant in this respect, it has the major stores of the world there.
Do you still visit Turkey in your holidays?
Of course. I still go to Samsun. Sometimes I go there on my summer holidays, other times to Antalya.
Even after moving to Chelsea, do you still have the same relationship with your childhood friends?
My friendships go on regardless of whatever happens. I am not a man to belittle somebody else, because I know where I came from.
All credit to TFF.org for the interview.