Tugay Kerimoglu: A Turkish Delight, a Blackburn Legend

Brian A. BradshawCorrespondent IMay 23, 2009

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 02:  Nigel De Jong of Manchester City battles for the ball with Tugay of Blackburn Rovers during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers at the City of Manchester Stadium on May 2, 2009 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Sunday, May 24 2009 will go down in history as the end of many era's in English football. The day that is the end of a phenomenal Premier League campaign, arguably the best since it's inception.

Quite possibly the end of Newcastle United's 16 year reign in the top flight, and their first relegation since 1989, should the worst happen. But one ending that'll be largely overlooked, is Tugay Kerimoglu's last Blackburn Rovers appearance, marking his retirement from the game.

Since his £1.3 million transfer from Glasgow Rangers in 2001, Tugay has become something of a cult with the Ewood Park faithful. His sheer passion for the game, and dedication for his employers and supporters, has touched the hearts of every Blackburn fan.

In his eight years at the Lancasharian club, Tugay has made 230 appearances in the famous blue and white halves, scoring 11 goals. Where he has lacked in goals, he sure hasn't in quality of over all play. Any Rovers fan will tell you they can't recall a bad game from him, and the goals he has scored, almost everyone of them can be described as phenominal.

A tough tackler as well as a great passer, Tugay could quite possibly slot into the centre of any team, even at 38 years of age. A testament to his calibre can be found from former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes.

Asked whether he wished Tugay was ten years younger, Hughes answered, "No, because if he was, he'd be playing in a Barcelona shirt."

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Tugay's contribution doesn't end at Blackburn, however. He played at the highest level in his home country of Turkey, making 234 appearances for Galatasary. He also played in the Scottish Premier League with the rangers Rangers, 42 games for the Glasgow outfit. He also captained Turkey, scoring two goals in 94 caps, and leading the Eastern Europeans to third place in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Tomorrow's match against West Brom will be an emotional farewell for the "Turkish Delight." If there is any justice, in Ryan Nelsen's absence, Sam Allardyce will hand Tugay the captaincy, and the board will grant the humble Turk a testimonial match in reward of his contribution.

Tugay is a well loved member of the Blackburn family, a role model to young aspiring footballers, and lastly, a Blackburn Rovers legend.

Tugay Kerimoglu, I speak for all Rovers fans; you are our Turkish Delight. Thank you for your services, we will miss your magic.