I scored World Cup’s fastest-ever goal but was exiled as a traitor

Hakan Sukur, Turkey’s top-scoring football player, has been forced to leave his homeland and work for Uber in the United States after receiving death threats and being exiled as a result of his involvement in politics. Sukur led Turkey’s national team to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2002 and scored the fastest-ever goal in the competition’s history. After retiring from football in 2008, he became a politician with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) founded by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But after growing critical of the government’s shutdown of schools run by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a one-time ally of Erdogan, Sukur resigned from the party and later served as an independent MP. In 2016, he was charged with insulting the president on Twitter over the Turkish government’s anti-Gulen crackdown. When factions of the Turkish army tried to overthrow the government later that year, Sukur fled the country and was designated a terrorist by the authorities. He lost all his assets in the country, including his businesses and houses. “I never did anything illegal, I am not a traitor or a terrorist,” said the 51-year-old. Despite the setbacks, Sukur hopes to one day return to his homeland.

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