Having surpassed a century of Premier-Liga appearances and well into his fifth season at FC Rubin Kazan, midfielder Gökdeniz Karadeniz is ready to play out his career at a club he has grown to love since leaving Turkey in 2008.
The indefatigable Gökdeniz has started all ten of Rubin's UEFA Europa League games this term, playing no small part in setting up this week's quarter-final showdown with European champions Chelsea FC. Beneath the 33-year-old's steely endurance is an audacious core, his timely strikes against FK Partizan, FC Internazionale Milano and round of 16 victims Club Atlético de Madrid proof of that.
When Gökdeniz ended an 11-year association with Trabzonspor AŞ to join Rubin in an €8.7m switch, his impact was immediate – scoring six goals en route to the Tatar team's maiden Russian title. Gökdeniz's fame would rocket to new heights during Rubin's UEFA Champions League debut the following campaign when he lashed the ball past FC Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés to ensure the visitors left the Camp Nou with a memorable 2-1 victory. A second championship arrived in 2009, then the Russian Cup in 2012.
A player of international pedigree, he has been capped 50 times by his country and was part of the squad that reached the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-finals. That said, Gökdeniz's burning ambition is to sample the euphoria of his homeland in Rubin colours. "I would love to play against Trabzonspor or another Turkish side," he said. "It would allow everybody at Rubin to experience the atmosphere. It is impossible to describe in words. They are obsessed with football – it is in their blood."
Gökdeniz is also a man of parochial obsession and unwavering loyalty, having previously turned down a lucrative offer from FC Dinamo Moskva. "I don't like to change teams. I like to be in one place for a long time," he said. "I am comfortable here. I like the players, fans and the management, who have shown constant faith in me. I have no regrets about staying at Rubin.
"I do not want to talk about my future now," Gökdeniz added, with his current deal set to expire in May 2015. "I want to serve out my contract and I am ready to end my career here. If the club would like me to stay I will be happy to do so." The respect is wholeheartedly mutual and given the midfielder's motto of "I can play badly but my shirt will never be dry", it is easy to see why.
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