If ever you need an example of a football player breaking down barriers, it is Blackburn and Turkey midfielder Tugay...
If ever you need an example of a football player breaking down barriers, it is Blackburn Rovers and Turkey midfielder Tugay...
Tugay proud to have a foot in both camps
Tugay is proud to have won nearly 100 caps for his country.
Equally, he is proud to play in the Premiership - so much he would love to stay in England when his contract at Ewood Park ends in the summer.
"I've never had a single problem from opponents or supporters being Turkish," reveals the 33-year-old who is in his third season with Blackburn after spending two successful seasons in Scotland with Rangers.
"I've made good friends since I've come, some of them English like Andy Cole and other foreign players such as Shota Arvaladze at Rangers.
"I would like to stay in the Premiership, perhaps with Blackburn if they want me to stay.
"It's a great league to be involved in and everyone has treated me with respect."
The Euro 2004 qualifier between Turkey and England in Istanbul will decide which nation goes automatically into next summer's championship in Portugal and who has to take part in the play-offs.
England fans won't have tickets for the game but Tugay is sure he and the Turkish team will make the players feel welcome.
"This is a football game, not a war. I know the Turkish and English people well and like them both so I can't always understand the rivalry.
"But the England players made us feel very welcome before the last game in Sunderland and we will want to do the same in Turkey.
"Both sides must remember that if they don't win, it is not the end of the world. It is a game of football.
"I don't expect to see any England supporters there but the result will depend on how the teams perform, not the crowd.
"All we can do as players is to remain level-headed during the match and not do anything to provoke the crowd with celebrations."
Tugay is a hero at Blackburn, who chant his name to the sound of 1980s Kajagoogoo hit 'Too Shy'.
Reports that he was involved in verbal hostilities with England players at The Stadium of Light are emphatically denied.
"I am still baffled as to where those stories came from. Anyone who has played with me knows I don't do that sort of thing. I will shake the hand of David Beckham or any other England player before the game.
"I live here so I don't have any problems. I can't foresee any problems at all, we will be trying to win a football match just like England."
The long-haired Tugay missed only one Premiership game last season and his economical distribution in midfield was a key reason to Rovers reaching the Uefa Cup.
Ironically, their first tie involved a trip to the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday night.
Tugay was left on the bench recently following the signing of Barry Ferguson but he says: "I was tired because of international duty. I feel confident in my football and I don't think it will be an issue getting into the team."
Sure enough, Tugay returned to the Rovers line-up at Portsmouth and helped his club side win 2-1 and says: "Squad rotation is a part of the modern game."
Tugay had intended to retire from international football after October 11. However, Turkish boss Senol Gunes has persuaded him to stay on until the summer of 2004.
England must hope his next game after their Istanbul meeting is a play-off match.
Tugay was talking to Joe Bernstein