With England having failed to qualify for Euro 2008, its press has been eager to pick up on any stories with an English connection. One has been Big Phil's move from Portugal to Chelsea, announced mid-tournament. Another has been the progress of Turkey's adopted Englishman, Colin Kazim-Richards, whose roster selection was aided by a Turkish-Cypriot mother, and whose starting place in Wednesday's semifinal against Germany is almost certainly assured by his new country's injury and suspension crisis.
If you've been keeping an eye on the British media, or the inane observations of the ESPN commentary teams, you can't possibly have missed what Sam Wallace duly labels Kazim-Richards' "remarkable" story. Brought up in the London district of Leytonstone, just like David Beckham, the player last year moved to Turkish giant Fenerbahce "via Bury, Brighton & Hove Albion, and Sheffield United." He scored against Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinal this past spring, which to England's sporting scribes is as good as picking up a World Cup winners' medal.
But like many British-bred footballers who move abroad, the most pertinent discovery has been the superior technique of his new teammates. "I'll never slag England off and I don't take any pleasure from them not making the finals," said Kazim-Richards. "But it's true that technique is so much better in Turkey. All the players are comfortable on the ball helped by the arrival of so many Brazilians who are unbelievable. It's astonishing some of the things they can do with a ball but you don't want to be embarrassed so you have to learn to do what they can do."