The fall from grace of a Newcastle derby hero

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Cast your mind back to Sunday the 23rd of October, 2005. It was the Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland at St James’ Park, with the score locked at 2-2 at half-time. Step forward Emre Belozoglu. The Turkish midfielder curls home a stunning free-kick to send the Newcastle fans into raptures. Oh, how things have changed.

Brought to Newcastle by Graeme Souness in 2005 for around £4 million, the little Turk never completely settled due to a string of injuries and this is the one moment by which the majority of the Toon Army will remember Emre. Since leaving for Fenerbahce in 2008, Emre has fallen off my radar, but now it seems like his fall from grace is complete.

Emre is required to testify as a suspect in the ongoing investigation into match-fixing in Turkish football. According to Turkish publication Zamen, the former Newcastle midfielder will be forced to answer questions on allegations that he sent a series of text messages to Ankaragucu defender Kagan Soylemezgiller before the two clubs met in the last match of the season in May.

The messages are reported to have said: “Don’t let my president (Aziz Yildirim) be angry. Don’t play your best game.” But the Fenerbahce club captain has denied those suggestions, with the messages supposedly sent by the Ahmet Bulut – business partner of his agent Ekrem Okumus – with the approval of the player.

Emre has also been accused of promising a number of Ankaragucu players that he would help them secure a move to Fenerbahce if they did not play in the fixture. If Emre is found guilty he may join Fenerbahce patron Yildirim and Besiktas coach Tayfur Havutcu in being arrested.

It will be a shame if Emre is remembered for this and not his stunning strike against the Mackems…

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