Arsenal FC may have a full house behind them when they take on UEFA Champions League rivals Fenerbahçe SK but the Turkish side's winger Kazım Kazım will not lack for support either as he faces his boyhood club.
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Arsenal FC may have a full house behind them when they take on UEFA Champions League Group G rivals Fenerbahçe SK on Wednesday night but one visiting player will not be wanting for support either.
Kazım Kazım, Fenerbahçe's London-born Turkish international, will have plenty of family and friends cheering him on as he returns to the city he was born and grew up in to face his boyhood favourites. "I have got 70 tickets for tomorrow but I need more," said the winger, formerly known in England as Colin Kazım-Richards. "For me obviously, growing up and supporting Arsenal as a boy, the game has a little bit more meaning. I want to show the team I supported as a boy what I can do."
Rise to prominence
The 22-year-old, whose mother is Turkish-Cypriot, enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence in Istanbul after joining Fenerbahçe from Sheffield United FC following their relegation from the Premier League in 2007. Having helped his new team reach uncharted territory by getting to the last eight of the UEFA Champions League, he ended the campaign by appearing for Turkey in a UEFA EURO 2008™ semi-final.
There was talk then about a move away from Fenerbahçe, but Kazım Kazım stayed and both club and player are finding life less easy this term. When Fenerbahçe last came to London, it was for a quarter-final outing last April against Chelsea FC; now they face Arsenal seeking to keep their campaign alive after two defeats and a draw. "When I did well in the [UEFA] European Championship they didn't want to let me go," he said. "I am not surprised – they are a massive club playing in the Champions League, although we not going as well as we wanted to go. I am happy but long term I am from England. Football is football and nobody can say in two years' time where they are going to be. I might not do as well in the next two years and end up with a smaller club."
It is only two years ago that he made his first top-flight start in English football, at this same stadium against Arsenal in September 2006. "I made my full Sheffield United debut here," he said. "We lost 3-0 but personally I had a good game." The fact group leaders Arsenal are unbeaten in 20 European home matches suggests a similar outcome may be on the cards yet Kazım Kazım, aware of his former favourites' mixed reviews in the Premier League this season, added: "I don't think there is a good time to play Arsenal – if there was, this would be the best time."