FC Bayern – Miasanrot Advent Calendar, Door 8: Hamit Altintop
The legendary transfer summer of 2008 with winger Franck Ribéry, goal scorer Luca Toni, international striker Miroslav Klose and returnee Zé Roberto also saw another player join Bayern who is often forgotten today: Hamit Altintop.
Hamit, who was born in Gelsenkirchen, first became known as one of the Altintop twin brothers alongside Halil. Initially, Halil scored for Kaiserslautern, but after a season with 20 (!) goals he made the move to Schalke to join his brother Hamit. The latter had already established himself as a regular midfield player in the two brothers’ native region. In the end, however, the two only played together for one year in the royal blue dress, as Hamit moved to Bayern in the summer of 2007.
The Turkish international’s all-round abilities had made him a particularly sought-after target on the transfer market in the summer. At Schalke, he was used every position from full-back to attacking midfield, with the role of right midfielder in a 4-4-2 suiting him best. Nevertheless, the expectations of most fans were probably moderate when the then 25-year-old arrived at Säbener Straße.
For all his lack of stardom, he arguably was the biggest positive surprise of the new signees in the first season at the new club. In the newly formed midfield, van Bommel and Ribéry were virtually permanent fixtures. Schweinsteiger, Zé Roberto and Altintop fought for the minutes in the remaining spots. Often with the best outcome for the newcomer, who was given minutes in every league match in which he was in the squad until the end of March.
For many Bayern fans, the second matchday of the 2007/08 season, when the new Bayern team outplayed the arch rivals from Bremen’s in their own stadium, will be remembered forever. In the middle of it all was Altintop, who after coming on prepared Toni’s 2-0 goal and then forever shot his way into the hearts of many Bayern fans with a powerful left-footed strike from distance.
A goal that he had announced weeks before in the League Cup with this screamer:
In general, it was the long-range rockets that Altintop could plant in the back of the net from range as if guided by a string. In the dictionary, next to “out of thin air” or the entry on “guided missiles”, you will find this:
Then, of all things, an international break ended a season that was on track to becoming legendary for Altintop. A metatarsal fracture forced saw him out until the summer, when he returned to become a key performer for Turkey in their fairytale run to the semi-finals of the European Championship.
But the long games during that tournament were too big a strain for Altintop’s freshly healed foot and so he missed almost all of preseason preparation for the following season, in which Jürgen Klinsmann coached the German record champions. Under the new coach and plagued by injuries, Altintop hardly got a look in.
Even when Louis van Gaal took over the reins the next season, Altintop’s situation did not improve much. He was only used sporadically and was given few occasions to release his powerful long-distance shot. After scoring seven goals in the opening season, he only managed five in the following three seasons. 1,600 league minutes in his first year were followed by only 1,800 more in the remainder of his time at Bayern.
It was therefore all the more surprising that Altintop did appear in what was probably the most important game of all of the van Gaal era. Due to Ribéry’s red card suspension in the first semi-final match against Lyon, the all-rounder was a starter in left midfield for the second leg. But while he still showed a strong game against the French which secured him and his team a place in the final against Inter, shining in this game was beyond him, as it was for the entire Bayern team. After about an hour, the current Netherlands head coach relieved the Turkish international, who had previously worn himself out against Cambiasso and Maicon.
It was all the more surprising that Real Madrid decided to scoop Altintop up on a free transfer at the end of his contract just a year later. Hold on and read the sentence again: Yes, you heard that right. Real Madrid. Altintop played a total of 600 minutes in a royal ensemble of greats alongside Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema & Co. After that, this incredible chapter was over too.
It seems fitting that Hamit Altintop is celebrating his birthday today, seeing him turn 40. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate him.