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Turkey’s Arda Turan in international retirement U-turn

Istanbul (AFP) – Turkey and Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan on Friday said he was ready to return to national team duty, two months after announcing his retirement from international football following a bust-up with former coach Fatih Terim.

Turan, Turkey’s captain and standout player of the last decade, had in June been thrown out of a training camp by Terim following a fracas with a reporter on a plane.

But the situation changed after Terim this month stepped down, also in the wake of fisticuffs — in this case at a Turkish kebab restaurant.

He was replaced by veteran Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu who immediately opened talks with Turan in the hope of acquiring his services for Turkey’s remaining four World Cup qualifiers.

“From now on, I want it to be known that I would feel honoured to have the national jersey on my back when the coach thinks it appropriate,” Turan wrote on his Instagram account by a picture of the Turkish number 10 shirt.

“I want to be by the side of my teammates in these difficult four games that remain,” added the 30-year-old.

He praised the support of Turkish Football Federation (TFF) president Yildirim Demiroren and Lucescu which led him to reconsider his decision.

Turan joined Barcelona in 2015 after four successful seasons with Atletico Madrid. Although he has struggled to earn a regular first team berth, his performances are followed with intense interest in Turkey.

After his move to Barca, the authorities in the gritty Istanbul district of Bayrampasa announced that they had named the street where he grew up “Arda Turan Street” in his honour. 

Turan has also made no secret of his support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, attending rallies to back “my commander-in-chief” in the wake of the failed coup bid last year.

Turkey face a nail-biting struggle to qualify for Russia 2018, currently in third place in their qualifying group, two points behind Croatia and Iceland. 

They have four more matches, starting with an away clash against Ukraine, who they lead on goal difference, on September 2.

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