Kem steps out of his brother's shadow

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The Independent Online

At 85 years of age Alec and Eric still share a roof; Jack and Bobby shared a World Cup triumph but few words since. As one of three brothers, this correspondent knows well enough the potency of sibling rivalry. Even in a close family it may be beneficial that we each went into different careers. For the cricketing Bedser twins, and the footballing Charlton brothers, there was no such escape. The Bedsers' fraternal bond, like that of Gary and Phil Neville, thrived in the competitive environment while that of the Charltons all but fractured.

Perhaps it is easier if, as in the case of the Nevilles, the elder brother makes the running, confirming the traditional order of primogenitor. That is the case with the Izzet football family, Mustafa and Kemal. Muzzy, now 29, has been a cornerstone of Leicester City's midfield for eight years, more latterly adding Turkish international honours. Kem, six years his junior, fills a similar midfield role for Second Division Colchester United. His profile and lifestyle is, he admits, very different to big brother's but there is not a trace of envy in his assessment.

"There's not much rivalry between us," he said when we spoke this week. "We're a close family and we're just really proud of each other. He's done so much in the game already, he's been a real inspiration. If I do half as much as he's done, it'll be an achievement."

Ordinarily Kem plays in Muzzy's shadow but this week it is the junor Izzet who is in the spotlight. While Muzzy takes the weekend off, a result of Leicester's early exit, Kem will tomorrow be at the heart of Colchester's attempt to reach the FA Cup sixth round for the first time since 1971. That is a stage Muzzy has only reached once, when Leicester infamously lost at home to Wycombe Wanderers. Then on Tuesday Kem has the chance to outdo his famous brother and become the first Izzet to play in a Millennium Stadium final when Colchester play Southend in the second leg of the LDV Vans southern area final.

A double dose of cup fever has thus struck Britain's oldest town, once the home of Old King Cole (real name Cunobelin). In particular everyone, said Kem, is recalling 13 February 1971. It was the last time entry to Layer Road was priced in shillings and pence and it was worth every old penny as the Us defeated Leeds United in the FA Cup fifth round.

It would be a shock today but then the impact was seismic, overshadowing even the imminent arrival of decimalisation. Leeds, who fielded all their available stars, such as Allan Clarke, John Giles and Peter Lorimer, would end the season as European Fairs Cup-winners, having beaten Juventus in the final, and League championship runners-up. The following year they would win the FA Cup. Colchester were then in the Fourth Division.

Tomorrow, Colchester again meet Yorkshire opposition in only their second appearance at this stage since 1971. Sheffield United are one of the First Division's better sides but they are no Leeds '71 vintage. The modern Colchester also operate a level above the team of Ray Crawford and Dave Simmons.

Yet victory for the Second Division side at Bramall Lane would still be a shock, not least because they have not scored an away League goal since October and, on Tuesday, lost that LDV first leg at home to struggling Third Division Southend. The Shrimpers, incidentally, included Leon Cort, the younger brother of Wolves' Carl, and Tes Bramble, the elder brother of Newcastle's Titus.

"It was one to forget about," Kem said. "We didn't do ourselves any justice and it wasn't what we wanted ahead of Sunday. We were hoping to go into the game with a good result behind us because Sheffield United will be difficult opponents. They are a good team and we are under no illusions. But we hope to play our own game and get something out of it. The pressure's on them and it's the FA Cup, anything can happen."

Colchester, who prior to this campaign had not won an FA Cup match since 1995, have already beaten one First Division team in this year's run, knocking out Coventry City in the fourth round. "We played really well there and thought we were unlucky to have to play a replay," Kem said. "We then battered them at our place and deserved to be in next round. It's the highlight of my career so far but it's only been a short career and hopefully I can better it on Sunday."

Kem's career began around the family's Bethnal Green home, keeping goal to Muzzy - "It's where he learned his finishing". Muzzy was taken on by Chelsea, leaving for Leicester when it became apparent he would not make the first team. By then Kem was a Chelsea fan - "Bethnal Green's not a Chelsea area but Muzzy would get me tickets."

Charlton signed Kem but he came to realise that, like his brother, he would have to move on to make the grade. "I was going nowhere fast at Charlton. I was never going to get in the first team and the manager [Alan Curbishley] told me that. He said: 'Go and find yourself a club.' Muzzy agreed. He said: 'You need to get out. You're rotting.' I wasn't even playing regular reserve team football because there were so many pros there. Muzzy said: 'You're confident of your ability to go out and get yourself a club, aren't you?' I said yes, I found one and it's worked out well."

Kem has been a fixture in the Colchester side since arriving nearly three years ago, twice winning the club's young player of the season award. "The manager [Phil Parkinson] seems to rate me, which is nice. If I'm playing decent and I'm fit I'll be picked, which gives you that extra bit of confidence. It means you can play your natural game and you don't mind giving everything for the manager. Hopefully, I repay him with my performances."

Kem is widely regarded as one of the Second Division players capable of stepping up a grade, a prospect he naturally aspires to. "Everything is so different in the Premiership, the money side's unbelievable. It's a different world.

"Muzzy and I have different lifestyles, he's on a lot more money than me and you have to live within your means. But I'm happy with what I've got. I've got my own house. I'm getting married next year. Maybe we'll have kids within a few years. I'm happy just sitting indoors or going to the cinema with my girlfriend. I'm a family man more than anything else."

It is what one might expect from a product of two family-orientated cultures, Turkish and London East End. Kem was even given his name by his grandmother. "My dad is the eldest of seven and Muzzy was the first grandchild. I think she chose our names. They are very traditional Turkish ones."

The footballing relationship between English and Turkish fans has not been good in recent years and Kem has suffered from Muzzy's decision to play internationally for Turkey. "I've had some hate-mail and been called a few things," he said. "The mail goes in the bin. The abuse is just banter - I smile back and they have a laugh back at you. Muzzy probably gets worse but you hear it more at lower-division grounds. You'll be standing waiting to take a corner and it's quiet, then one or two voices come out."

That is unlikely to be a problem tomorrow with Kem likely to play in front of the biggest crowd of his career to date. The family will be out in force as Kem attempts to prove that, like his brother, he is capable of gracing the higher stage on a regular basis.

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