Colin Kazim-Richards: 'It's incredible, like being a movie star. It's so intense'

Colin Kazim-Richards is enjoying life in Turkey but still wants to play in the Premier League, writes Glenn Moore
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The Independent Football

What's in a name? Well just imagine if, when Rodney Richards registered his son Colin, 21 years ago, an error had not crept into the paperwork and Colin Kazim Richards had not become Colin Kazim- Richards. A middle name designed as a nod to the Turkish-Cypriot background of his mother Emine (Rodney is Antiguan), became half of one of the most unusual names in football.

It is a name which exploded out of Asia and across Europe on Wednesday night when "CKR", as he occasionally styles himself, turned Chelsea's Champions League tie in Istanbul on its head. But if Kazim had not been incorporated into his surname what is the likelihood that his Turkish ancestry would have been spotted, leading to Turkish recognition at under-21 and full levels and last summer's £1.25m transfer from Sheffield United to ambitious Fenerbahce?

In Turkey he is known as Kazim Kazim. In England he is also known as "the Coca-Cola Kid", a reference to a move from Bury to Brighton being facilitated by an Albion fan winning, from the sponsors, £250,000 to spend on a player. Naturally enough, one of his dressing room nicknames is Pepsi.

Now, though, he is becoming known not for a marketing gimmick or an exotic name but for his skills as a footballer. "He can be an important player for us, and for Turkey, for many years," said Zico, Fenerbahce's manager.

Kazim-Richards, whilst enjoying a lifestyle which includes Playstation sessions with Roberto Carlos, has other plans. In the wake of his star turn on Wednesday he admitted that he would like a return to England, adding with a gesture towards the Fenerbahce team transport: "If you ask any player on that bus, everyone wants to play in the Premier League. It's the place to play."

Not that he is regretting his move just yet, even if he has only just begun Turkish lessons. "It's just me and my girlfriend over here so it's quite hard, but this is a massive club playing in the Champions League with big players and Zico as the manager.

"It's taken me a while to adapt as the league here is not as fast as the Premier League, but the manager has just told me to keep going.

"Off the field it's incredible. It's like being a movie star; no-one believes it until they come to Turkey. The fans are absolutely crazy and it's so intense. Everywhere you go it's all about football. You see people playing football at 3am in these pits. It's like another world and I've never seen anything like it. I want to bring a bit of that back to east London where I'm from. I want to put those pits up so kids can play."

Kazim-Richards, who was rejected by Arsenal, West Ham, QPR and Wimbledon before being given a chance by Bury, added: "I don't want to blow my own trumpet, but I'd like to think I can be an inspiration to kids from deprived areas. It's not just me, there are lots of people doing good things in their lives.

"You don't have to be a footballer or a world star. Just do what you want to do and don't be a statistic. I'm not a statistic. My family have always pushed me not to be one, not to fail. I'd like to think I can be some sort of inspiration."

Kazim-Richards has spent £2,000 on tickets for Tuesday's Stamford Bridge second leg. "I'm an east London boy and all my family are still there," he explained. As an Arsenal fan, he will be hoping to spend a similar amount on seats at the Emirates Stadium for the semi-final.

Turkish delight? Brits on the Bosphorus

*LES FERDINAND (Besiktas 1988-89) Spent season on loan from QPR. Scored 14 in 24 games before returning to forge impressive career with Newcastle and England.

*IAN WILSON (Besiktas 1989-1990) Left Everton to join Besiktas. Won league and cup double in before joining Derby.

*DALIAN ATKINSON (Fenerbahce 1995-96)

Joined from Aston Villa but failed to settle, despite scoring 10 in 21 games.

*DEAN SAUNDERS (Galatasaray 1995-96)

Linked up with Graeme Souness, whom he had worked under at Liverpool. Scored 15 in 27 matches.

*KEVIN CAMPBELL (Trabzonspor 1998-99)

Scored five goals in 17 matches, but left following racist incident involving president Mehmet Ali Yilmaz, who labelled him a "discoloured cannibal".

James Mariner