Three weeks after being welcomed to Turkey by 3,000 fans, former England striker Darius Vassell said he could not wait to get on with playing football after putting the finishing touches to a move to MKE Ankaragücü.
The 29-year-old was mobbed by fans when he arrived in the Turkish capital at the beginning of the month to begin contract negotiations, and after signing a two-year deal he said: "The transfer talks took a while to finalised but I am very happy that it is all sorted. Now I want to play football." Vassell arrives as a free agent after his contract at Manchester City FC expired at the end of June with the big-spending Premier League club having brought in a host of new forwards including Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Tévez and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Two of Vassell's 22 caps for England came against Turkey – in UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying – and he said that experience was one of the key reasons behind his decision to make the switch to Ankaragücü. "I couldn't forget our match in Turkey while I was playing for England," said Vassell who played just eight league games last season. "That game has a special place in my heart and now I am pleased to be playing football in Turkey."
Vassell, who scored 17 goals in 103 appearances with City after joining from Aston Villa FC in 2005, follows in a tradition of English forwards moving to Turkey. Les Ferdinand spent the 1988/89 Süper Lig campaign on loan at Beşiktaş JK while trying to break into the Queens Park Rangers FC first team before going on to play for Newcastle United FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC and England while Kevin Campbell had a stint with Trabzonspor eleven seasons ago. More recently, London-born attacker Kazım Kazım took the Turkish nationality of his mother and, having played for the national team, moved to Fenerbahçe SK in 2007.
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