Breaking News:

He's no turkey now - the rebirth of Real Madrid flop Nuri Sahin

Goal.com

When Nuri Sahin returned to Borussia Dortmund in January 2013, his tail was firmly between his legs. Eighteen months of misery had passed since he left the Westfalenstadion for Real Madrid expecting bigger and better things.

He had been the club’s hero. A local boy bred by the academy, his brilliant performances saw the Turkey international lead Jurgen Klopp’s side to an unlikely, but brilliant, Bundesliga title in 2010-11 and he was ready for superstardom.

By the time he made his way back to Germany, registering just a handful of appearances for Madrid and even fewer in a peculiar loan spell at Liverpool, many thought his top-level career was over. A stint in the land of his ancestors seemed to beckon.

Amid the emotion of Sahin’s return, there were serious question marks over his place in the team. Ilkay Gundogan had been signed as his replacement and had shone throughout the season, leading a Champions League challenge and forming a dynamic partnership with Sven Bender.

FIVE REAL MADRID FLOPS
 JONATHAN WOODGATE | 2004-2007

Had possibly the worst debut the game has ever seen and made just nine Liga appearances.
 ROYSTON DRENTHE | 2007-2012
Fell badly out of favor after a promising start to his Madrid career. Now at Reading.
 JAVIER SAVIOLA | 2007-2009

Picked up on a free transfer from Barcelona and scored just four times in two years.
 SERGIO CANALES | 2010-2012

Arrived at Madrid as one of La Liga's great hopes, but was promptly farmed out to Valencia.
 ANTONIO CASSANO | 2006-2008

Brilliantly talented, but his spell at Madrid was plagued with disciplinary problems.


And, sure enough, Sahin played a bit-part role last term. Sure, he started when Dortmund’s emphasis switched from chasing Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga to pursuing an unlikely Champions League win, but he was firmly a backup player. When the club reached the European Cup final, he rose from the bench a matter of seconds from full time.

But this season, things have been different. An injury sustained while playing a friendly for Germany against Paraguay has seen Gundogan sidelined since August, and though that has been a headache for Klopp, the Turk was presented with an opportunity to prove himself.

He has done just that. He had the luxury of slotting into a team which made a flying start to the season, buoyed by their 4-2 win over Bayern in the DFL-Supercup. He outperformed Ilkay in the season's opener and has gone from strength to strength since then.

Perhaps the crowning moment of his campaign was October’s Revierderby, when he chipped in with a goal as Dortmund avenged Schalke’s Bundesliga double over them last year. As BVB have stuttered thanks to injuries, Sahin has been a model of consistency.

This is a completely different Sahin to the one who flopped so spectacularly at Madrid and Liverpool.

At Madrid the Turk arrived injured and, despite the presence of Mesut Ozil and Hamit Altintop, German Turks from the same region as him, he never looked quite at home.

By the time he had returned to full fitness, Jose Mourinho’s side was cruising towards the Liga title and the coach chose not to tinker with a winning formula. At Anfield, confusion reigned as Brendan Rodgers tried to make him play as a No.10, a role to which Sahin is unaccustomed and ill-suited.

It was only logical, then, that he would return to the tutelage of Klopp, who had transformed him from a raw but undoubtable talent into a player who would win his team the Bundesliga. Sahin has admitted that he would have preferred a BVB comeback sooner.

“To play at Anfield was a wonderful experience. And maybe if I had not gone there I would not have been able to return to Borussia Dortmund. For that, I am happy. Thank God I have left Rodgers."

His goal count has not been as impressive - scoring just twice this season - as it was during his first stint, but his classy midfield play has been coupled with commitment, work rate and bravery. It’s as though he’s making up for lost time.

His story should serve as a lesson for those considering to leave Dortmund to further their careers. Though Mario Gotze has been brilliant for Bayern since departing Signal Iduna Park, Shinji Kagawa struggled at Manchester United in a manner oddly reminiscent of Sahin.

Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal at Madrid gives Sahin the chance to demonstrate to the Bernabeu faithful just what he is truly capable of. It also offers him the opportunity to show Gundogan that he may be better off resisting a move to the Spanish capital this summer.

Follow Enis Koylu on

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (0)
  • South Korea recalls Son for Qatar, Iran World Cup qualifiers

    South Korea recalls Son for Qatar, Iran World Cup qualifiers

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea coach Uli Stielike has recalled Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min ahead of next month's 2018 World Cup qualification games against Qatar and Iran. … More »

    AP - Sports - 21 minutes ago
  • Kamara scores 2 as Crew keep hopes alive

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ola Kamara scored his 14th and 15th goals of the season and the Columbus Crew beat the New England Revolution 2-0 on Sunday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. … More »

    AP - Sports - 28 minutes ago
  • Morris scores 2 as Sounders beat Galaxy

    Morris scores 2 as Sounders beat Galaxy

    Jordan Morris scored his 11th and 12th goals of his rookie season and the Seattle Sounders beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 4-2 on Sunday to snap an 11-game road winless streak in the series. Los Angeles (11-5-15) lost its first home game of the season … More »

    AP - Sports - 3 hours ago
  • Moscow prepares for 1st English visit since Euro 2016 clash

    Moscow prepares for 1st English visit since Euro 2016 clash

    Russian police are getting ready for Tottenham's game against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday in the Champions League. It's the first visit by an English club to Russia since clashes between the two countries' fans marred the European Championship, though a … More »

    AP - Sports - 3 hours ago
  • With Mario Balotelli rested, Nice wins anyway to stay top

    Striker Mario Balotelli was rested to protect a sore hip and his replacement Alassane Plea scored the winner as Nice beat struggling Nancy 1-0 Sunday to stay top of the French league. Keeping Thursday's Europa League match at Russian side Krasnodar … More »

    AP - Sports - 4 hours ago