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Bundesliga Kick off!

On The Spot: Hamit Altintop

Hamit Altintop is known for his versatility, blistering pace and long-range shots. The midfielder plays for Turkey but was born and raised in the German town of Gelsenkirchen - where he played for Schalke for four years.

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Hamit Altintop

Hamit you were born in Gelsenkirchen - but is it true you were never really a Schalke fan as a child?

I was always a Bayern fan. They always made the right decisions - whether it was the players, the manager or the team generally. And I always admired that. Even as a kid, I always had my eye on the top, and was keen to learn from those who were experienced and successful. And that's been a big help in my life.

What impressed me here right from the beginning was that everyone is treated equally - no matter who they are, what they've won or not won. Everyone is treated in a way deserving of how they behave and perform. That's what makes this club what it is, that's the recipe for success.

Frank Ribery - who's very passionate but also very, very modest. Then there's Luca Toni - a completely different type of guy. He hasn't got a bad bone in his body. He has a good heart and he brings a lot of fun into it as well, with his fashion and style. It's the combination that makes the team work.

At the time, I didn't realise what a big deal it was. But now I appreciate how decisive it was. I was playing against people like Jan Koller, Amoroso, Rosicky - players that I'd only ever seen on TV, and just one year earlier they'd won the Bundesliga. And suddenly you're playing against these guys, and then you nutmeg someone like Jan Koller. When I look back I realise it was quite an achievement on that day.

Everyone was very impressed - and you were so modest. You just said you were going home to tell your mum. Perhaps you could tell us briefly about your childhood?

My childhood?

You have three older sisters and an identical twin brother?

I think I understand women very well because there were 4 women in the house when I was growing up. And then me and my brother. We always helped out around the house, with small things. And now that I live alone in Munich, I don't find it so difficult to do stuff myself like vacuuming or cleaning.

The other thing is my brother and I - and the whole family - learned to share everything right from early on. Although there were difficulties sometimes. It was especially hard for my mum. My father died when we were two years old. She had to work very hard. But she brought us up to be modest. It's the same in football, the collective plays a decisive role. You always get people who are a bit different, a bit individual, and that's absolutely fine. But when we get out on the pitch, we all have to pull together. And when people don't fall in line, they do sometimes get a mouthful from me.

I find that hard to imagine!

It's true!

The only drawback about Munich is that his twin brother Halil is no longer around. Halil plays for Schalke. Before, they were on the same team, now they're rivals.

Do you phone often?

Every day!

Every day?!

Several times a day in fact

Several times a day?!

Yes. We talk about how the match was, how training went. And we talk about Mum too because he still lives with her. But we talk about the unpleasant things too - injuries for example, or the times when you had a scoring chance but messed it up and how annoying it is. We try to encourage each other. He's my best friend, and my brother - and that's the greatest gift that I could have from God.

So it's good that Hamit and Halil can at least play together for their country - Turkey.

So what are your thoughts about the upcoming European Championship?

I think we need to take a calm, focused approach. In terms of skill, we've got what it takes. We're just lacking in discipline - or sufficient football knowledge to always know what is tactically the right thing to do. But we have a good coach now, and if we prepare well then I think we'll certainly get through the first round.

What are you aiming for?

I'd like to play a quarter-final match against Germany

And who would you want to win?

Turkey!

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