Well that goes right to the heart of what makes a cult hero.

It felt like there was never a time that Tugay wasn't the oldest man in the Premier League by at least a decade. Marauding around the pitch with his mane of, to put it nicely, slick, greying hair, he looked genuinely out of place. He also happened to be one the finest midfielders to have ever played in the Premier League. 



A sentiment shared by former manager, Mark Hughes, in a recent Daily Star interview talking about the Turkish midfielder - "Best I've managed, best I've played against, probably in my top three, I rated him that highly.” 

Its a hell of a quote made infinitely better by Hughes concluding with "A real character, always liked a fag at half-time. A great guy."



Ferguson famously stated in 2006 that if Tugay was a decade younger he would have snapped him up instantly while Gheorghe Hagi rated him as among the best ball playing midfielders anywhere. He really was good.

So in the checklist of cult heroes we have so far got:

A - Tugay looked more like most of the fans than his fellow players 

B - He never played for a traditional powerhouse  

C - His innate ability drew praise from all around football 

D - He didn't even take care of his body in the way that his often decade younger opposition did



You can add to that list that he was shrouded in mystery due to having almost no media presence and crucially, essentially, the fact that he only scored bangers.

His trademark was thunderous volleys from outside the box, strikes against Tottenham and Fulham particular stand outs, though he was also perfectly happy to swing a boot at any ball and send it sailing into the top corner. 

As if his pitch for the Premier League cult hero hall of fame wasn't already strong enough he also went and won Turkish Masterchef a year after hanging up his boots and had been genuinely torn as a youth between pursuing his burgeoning career in football or being a racing driver.

He arrived in the league the wrong side of 30 and stuck around for close to a decade as others came and went. He remains one of the Premier League’s most indelible characters over ten years after calling it quits and it’s unlikely that's going to change anytime soon.

Thanks for the memories, Tugay.






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