Hamit Altıntop admitted "it's not that bad to write a bit of history like this" after his spectacular volley in Turkey's 3-0 UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying victory over Kazakhstan in September was named goal of the year at Monday's FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala.
The FC Bayern München midfielder topped a poll of one million fans, beating opposition that included FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben, Samir Nasri, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Northern Irish part-timer Matthew Burrows. In a nice touch to proceedings in Zurich, he received the FIFA Puskás Award trophy from Andrei Sidelnikov, the Kazakhstan No1 he left so helpless in Astana. "I have to admit it was a nice goal," the goalkeeper conceded with a wry smile.
Indeed, Turkey were 1-0 up in the Group A opener when Emre Belözoğlu's searching corner found Hamit Altıntop on the edge of the area and he met it on the full with a sumptuous right-footed volley. "
It might not have been the most important goal but it was certainly the most spectacular," the 28-year-old told FIFA.com. "In situations like these you shouldn't really weigh up the pros and cons – you should just try your luck.
"I'm obviously very thankful that I've got this skill for long-distance shots.
I recently managed another one at Bayern's training camp in Qatar, so hopefully there are plenty more to come." Turkey may need them. After following up a 3-0 win in Kazakhstan with a 3-2 victory at home to Belgium, Guus Hiddink's men suffered back-to-back losses to Germany and Azerbaijan. It was, Hamit Altıntop conceded, "quite a setback".
He remains hopeful of being in Poland/Ukraine in 2012, though, explaining: "We've still got six matches to play, and we're looking at getting at least enough points to finish second in the group and qualify for the play-offs. We had some ups and downs in the first four matches, and the coach knows how to take the positives out of that and make sure that we are prepared in the right way for the rest of the campaign."
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