Colin Kazim-Richards. A great success story.
Bolton fans to this day still wear T-shirts emblazoned with a photo of Jay Jay Okocha and the line: “Jay Jay: so good they named him twice.” It is not the mercurial Nigerian maestro but another double barrel that is enjoying some of the limelight at this year's European Championships and can expect to be named in the starting line-up against Croatia tonight.
Tricky winger Colin Kazim-Richards a.k.a Colin “Kazim Kazim” is enjoying a new lease of life at Turkish club Fenerbahce and for the national side after his move from the lower echelons of English football to the big time.
Known by many in England as the “Coca-Cola Kid” (after a fan “bought” him from Bury to Brighton & Hove Albion for €300.000 after winning the right in a competition run in 2005 by the American soft drinks giant), he struggled to establish himself in the English game.
2 years, 110 appearances and 10 goals later, he signed a four-year deal with Fenerbahce on 15 June 2007 to embark on a new life and a fresh opportunity to fulfill his talent and prove his doubters wrong.
Despite the support of his family and in particular his mother, a Turkish Cypriot, he initially struggled to adapt to a new culture and lifestyle but gradually overcame the homesickness a 20 year-old (now 21) footballer plying his trade solo in an unfamiliar environment is bound to experience and started to win praise for several cameo appearances.
This culminated in his first goal for his new club. And what a goal it was...a fine strike in the first leg of his team's Champions League quarter-final clash against Chelsea, a very proud moment for a lifelong Gunner. Tonight, he will pull on his national colours with pride in the knowledge that just 2 or 3 years ago, he was struggling to make a living out of football and had an uncertain future ahead of him.
Despite inducing the wrath and falling out of favour with several of his previous managers, who suggested that his bad attitude would prove his downfall, Kazim- Richards has a heart of gold and is a tough character. Don't bet against him adding further to his growing reputation tonight by getting his name on the score sheet in another high-profile encounter.
Having cleared several of the hurdles that have faced him so far in his fledgling career, his highest one is yet to come - that of keeping his feet on the ground as his stock continues to rise.
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