Turkish football officials, including former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich midfielder Hamit Altintop, were forced to take shelter on Thursday after the headquarters of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) was littered bullets in a terrifying attack. Two suspects have already been arrested and Turkish politician Suleyman Soylu called the attackers “drunk”.
While much of the footballing world was gripped by the events of Transfer Deadline Day, an altogether more chilling ordeal unfolded at the TFF headquarters in Istanbul. The defendants opened fire on September 1 with a key meeting in progress inside.
A total of 11 shots were reportedly fired and five of them hit the building, according to Soylu, which says the incident is being investigated. The DHA news agency says some bullets targeted the TFF chairman’s office and others in a meeting room, although there were no injuries, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
Altintop, who retired in 2018 and now plays a leading role in the TFF, said: “We threw ourselves to the ground as soon as we heard the gunshots.”
Altintop spent 10 years as a Turkey international, earning 84 caps and playing for Bayern and Los Blancos during a stellar playing career. He hung up his boots four years ago after a stint with German side Darmstadt, having also played for Galatasaray and Schalke.
A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party, Omer Celik, confirmed the incident happened on Thursday and said he spoke by phone with TFF chief Mehmet Buyukeksi, wishing him well after this terrible ordeal.
The attack may serve as a revelation for players who have just arrived in Turkey after a turbulent summer transfer window. Dele Alli was one of them, leaving Everton to join Besiktas on an initial loan deal which could become permanent in January or next summer.
The former England international, who has struggled for form in recent years, was greeted as a hero upon his arrival in Turkey and performed well on his debut for the club. At just 26, Alli could have a dramatic impact on the Turkish Super Lig if he finds anything like the form that saw him burst onto the scene with Tottenham in his youth.
Michy Batshuayi is another top star to switch England for Turkey, joining Fenerbahce from Chelsea past the transfer deadline following a collapsed deal with Nottingham Forest.
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