When ex Manchester City and Aston Villa striker Darius Vassell was made to feel like Nelson Mandela

Manchester City striker Darius Vassell had a career of ups and downs.  He scored loads of bangers for Manchester City and Aston Villa, started 3 games at the World Cup for Sven’s England in 2002 and he also drilled a hole into his foot.  The most surreal moment was when he went to check out Ankaragucu in Turkey about a potential transfer.

Speaking to the Guardian Darius Vassell revealed how the transfer came about.

My agent came to me with the option of joining a club in Turkey. He said that a Super Lig club called Ankaraspor were interested in me. I asked if he was sure it was them and he corrected himself and said it was actually Ankaragucu who wanted me. They were even more obscure!

Darius Vassell arriving in Turkey

The welcome was unreal

I travelled on 1 July, 2009, but I simply wasn’t ready for the welcome I received at Ankara Esenboga Airport. There were thousands of supporters there to greet me, with flags, shirts and they made such a noise; I was totally taken aback, I’d never experienced anything like this before. There were people holding up welcome banners, flares were set off and every television camera available seemed to be pointed at me.

I must have looked like a rabbit in headlights when I walked out of the airport doors and into the madness. People were bouncing up and down, chanting: “Dar-ee-us Varr-sell, Dar-ee-us Varr-sell, Olé, Olé, Olé!”.

And he felt like a statesmen

A young woman handed me a blue and yellow bouquet of flowers, the club’s colours, and it soon became a real scrum to get to the waiting cars, with people pushing their way through to get close to me. It was the kind of reception you would have expected for a world leader, someone like Nelson Mandela, or a rock star, not an English footballer visiting a Turkish football club.

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