One of the legendary names of the Turkish football, Yılmaz Vural, is the beloved of the Turkish nation and has a unique personality. We talked about his life and the Turkish football with Vural.
Shall we start from your childhood; did you play ball a lot when you were a child?
I would leave the house in the morning and play until the evening; dodge ball, tipcat… I learned to play football at an early age. My cousin used to be a football player as well as being a huge Fenerbahçe fan. If Fener was to score a goal, he could jump out the window from the first floor. He was that charged. He had set up a neighborhood football team that we all used to play. I used to go to a Quran course. I used to recite the morning azans and had many fans. After learning how to play football, I remember fleeing from the Quran course.
How was your family?
We used to live at the center of Adapazarı. Our house had a garden. We owned other properties, too but only one left over the years. My grandfather was responsible from the family, he used to own a hotel and he was the one to support the family. I was raised in a house with grandparents. They were both interesting people. Long hair became a fashion during those years. Parents used to warn, “Cut your hair, are you a woman?” My grandmother was a very tolerating person. She didn’t reject my long hair. If my mother and I had a disagreement, she would help us to find the peace. We were raised with love.
People used to call your grandmother ‘Kurşuncu Bahriye…’
She could find the cures that medicine could not in Adapazarı. She used to know all about the oldwives remedies. She was an interesting woman. She died at the age of ninety. In my family, for people who die under ninety, they say, “Poor thing… died so young…” My aunt passed away at one hundred and five. My father is ninety-three and, may God bless him, he is very healthy.
How was your relationship with your parents?
My mother didn’t go to school after elementary school but later on she improved herself well. She used to love reading. She spent a lot of effort to make us study. We were naughty and lazy. She would hit our hands with her ruler and go, “Why didn’t you do this?” or “Why did you do that?” May God rest her soul in peace; she was like the man of the house. My father was softer. I don’t remember him hitting us. He was innocuous. He was at the background. My mother used to do things around the house. He was a successful man. He was a loving father but he wouldn’t show it to us when we were awake; he would hug and kiss us when we were asleep. We weren’t that wealthy but I had a merry childhood.
Did you used to aspire to rich people?
No. We had a very wealthy neighbor, Hacı Ömer Bey. They used to live in a mansion as big as a castle. If we were to wear sneakers, their kids used to wear the same kind of shoes. They had incredible culture and values. They never patronized us. They would share whatever is cooked in their house with the whole neighborhood. They were very modest people.
Did you have someone special at your neighborhood?
Our love interests were usually platonic. It didn’t used to be that easy to touch a woman’s hand then. We had a neighborhood spirit. ‘A girl from our neighborhood’ was our sister.
What about having a girlfriend from surrounding neighborhoods?
Of course. There were neighborhood gangs. We used to fight over girls: “Why did you look at our girl, why did you talk to her?” There was a neighborhood pressure then. When one of the big boys from our neighborhood asked us to get some gum for him, we would act as if we were his orderly. They were wonderful times. People were genuine and helpful. The doors were unlocked, no breaking and entering. The relationships with the relatives were warm. When one was in trouble, everyone would help. Nowadays, even siblings cannot get along.
Do you like being a family?
Of course I do. I have three sons. I wish I had more.
Are you the one who greets him home after school?
Yes, because his mother is usually at school. My wife studies Gastronomy and Sports Sciences at Okan University. She kept telling me that she wanted to go to school for the last seventeen years and I said, “Okay, fine.” I thought that she wouldn’t be able to pass the exam but she did.
Do you always smile? Don’t you ever get angry?
Why would I get angry right now? There is nothing to be angry. But I get angry sometimes. The life is not to be taken that seriously. We laugh, we enjoy…
We know that despite many obstacles you went to Germany for your education. Did you achieve that with your own efforts?
My father was a factory worker. He was also a painter. He used to paint products and inscriptions on tractors. Our family economics was not great but thank God we were not poor. They didn’t have the resources to send me to Europe to study. I went there. I worked as a bodyguard at discos. I worked at pubs, factories. I worked as a cleaner. I sold newspaper. I’ve used the money that I’ve earned for my education.
During one of your interwievs you said that, “I’d worked at unusual jobs in Germany,” what were those?
I cannot enter to that subject, cannot tell. (Big laughters)
So, we won’t get to know your secret. Maybe we’re going to learn it when you write your life…
That is very likely now. I could tell that story in the book.
FOR AS LONG AS I HAVE KNOWN MYSELF I HAVE TRAVELED BY TRAIN
Have you ever traveled by train?
Are you asking me? For as long as I have known myself I have traveled by train. I used to go everywhere by train when I used to study in Ankara. We used to go to my mother’s village in Adapazarı by train. A few stations farther, there used to be a picnic field. We used to go even there by train. The pleasure of traveling by train is incomparable. I traveled a lot by train in Europe also. I traveled by high-speed train in Japan. Its speed was 300 km/h. Our railroad system is expanding and this is good for our economy.
How would a train travel make you feel?
It would take me to the past. Train is nostalgic. I remember my childhood and youth. On top of it, it offers me a very comfortable traveling experience. I can read my book and listen to music. If I get bored, I can take a little walk on the aisle. You have the ability to move on a train. You can walk to the dining car and have your meal while watching out the window. You have limitations on an airplane or in a car. You have zero mobility. I personally recommend traveling by train to everyone. For me, it is a pleasure to travel anywhere that railways can reach.
I see Real Madrid in my dreams
A young man told me, “Can I become a football player?” After learning that he was twenty-five years old, I told him that it was too late. He said, “But I play real good in my dreams.” And, I said, “I see myself as the coach of Real Madrid, dreams are not real, you keep on with your education.”
His advice to his son
My advice to my son would be to stay away from anything that bothers him. Not to plot schemes. Not to hurt the feelings of people that he is together. Know his limits. Earn as much money as to go wherever he wants to go.
You cannot take your money to the other side
You cannot take your money to the other side. Nothing belongs to us. That is why worshipping money, property, or becoming ambitious to earn more is meaningless. It is important to decipher life. Once you do it, you create your life philosophy.
Some love, some do not
Some love, some do not in our circle. The most important jury is the public in my opinion. I know that I am approved by that jury and it is great. Wherever I go from Hakkâri to Edirne, people show me their love.
He is a revolutionary in his career
I present a revolutionary nature in my career. Maybe, this is why I cannot find a job. Maybe, after I die, or centuries later some would say, “There was such a man and he had said these.”