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Hamit preparing for insider job

For Turkey midfielder Hamit Altıntop, born and raised in the industrial city of Gelsenkirchen, this evening's semi-final against Germany holds a special significance.

Turkey's Hamit Altıntop was born and plays club football in Germany
Turkey's Hamit Altıntop was born and plays club football in Germany ©Getty Images

For Turkey midfielder Hamit Altıntop, born and raised in the industrial city of Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr Valley, the semi-final against Germany holds a special significance.

'No difference'
Not only will he be facing the country of his birth, but the FC Bayern München player will also lock horns with five of his club-mates – Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Philipp Lahm, Marcell Jansen and Bastian Schweinsteiger – as both sides bid to secure a place in Sunday's final. "I was born in Germany and I grew up there. I learned lots of things there, but playing for Turkey was always going to be my priority," Hamit told euro2008.com. "It will be nice to face some of my team-mates, but I'm only thinking about my own performance, not theirs. In the past I've played against my twin brother [Halil], but it makes no difference to me on the field."

Progress 'deserved'
Hamit played a crucial role in Turkey's dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against Croatia in the quarter-final and is adamant his country fully deserve their last-four place at UEFA EURO 2008™. "The most important thing is that nothing has been handed to us on a plate," added Hamit, capped 45 times. "We haven't scored an offside goal, we haven't been given a controversial penalty or anything like that. We deserve this happiness and to be where we are. Of course, the results may have been different if we hadn't scored at key times, but we always have belief in ourselves and we never take our eyes off the target."

Inside knowledge
This UEFA European Championship is Hamit's first experience of a major finals, but he is more familiar with his next opponents than most. "Everything is in order in the Germany team," said the former FC Schalke 04 player. "There will only ever be minor changes to their system. With such characteristics, we expect to face a very disciplined Germany side in the semi-final. They are going to try to impose their physical presence on the field, they defend well and they are also very dangerous from set-pieces."

'Great emotion'
As UEFA EURO 2008™ followers will have witnessed, Polish-born Germany striker Lukas Podolski did not celebrate his goal against Poland, while Switzerland's Hakan Yakin muted his delight after registering against Turkey, the country of his ancestors. So how will Hamit react if he scores against Germany at St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday? "I am playing for my country and that's all I feel," he said. "I have Turkish blood in my veins, as they say. Nothing is related with Germany so, if I score a goal in the semi-final of the European Championship, I will celebrate it with great emotion. No one would be happier than me to score in this game."