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‘I'm a Gelsenkirchen lad’

Impatient Hamit fired up for Dortmund

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Hamit Altintop was all smiles on Wednesday, posing merrily during a shoot for the new Bayern official merchandise catalogue. But something didn’t quite fit, especially not for Hamit. The Turkey international’s boots were yellow and black, Borussia Dortmund colours – and Altintop used to play for Borussia’s arch-rivals Schalke.

“Don’t forget I’m a Gelsenkirchen lad,” said Altintop, who was born deep in Schalke territory on 8 December 1982. In one of the classic Bundesliga debuts of all time, Hamit starred for the Royal Blues of Schalke against the yellow-and-blacks of Dortmund in 2003, scoring two goals. And before his switch to Bayern in the summer of 2007, he and Schalke effectively threw away the Bundesliga title with a defeat against their bitter enemies.

“The rivalry between Schalke and Dortmund is like the situation in Munich between Bayern and the Lions [TSV 1860 Munich],” commented the midfielder, whose overall record against BVB is a good one: “When I was with Schalke, I faced Dortmund eight times and won five or six.” He has yet to achieve the same thing with Bayern, as he missed last term’s DFB Cup final with injury.

Impatience as a virtue

Sunday presents an opportunity to remedy the situation, when Bayern entertain BVB in their first home fixture of the year. “I’m totally motivated and bursting with power,” declared Altintop, and not merely because the opposition are former deadly foes. After missing almost the entire first half of the season with injury, the hard-running enforcer is desperate for a place in the team. “I’m grateful to the coach for bringing me on as a sub against Stuttgart and Hamburg. Maybe it’s part of a plan, but I’m ready to get going now.”

Hamit is happy to play wherever the coach needs him. “At right-back, in midfield, up front or at the back – I’m totally flexible,” he stated. “He’s really hit the gas,” admired Jürgen Klinsmann recently, but Bastian Schweinsteiger is first-choice on the right side of midfield for now: “Bastian has that shirt, which is something Hamit has to swallow.”

“I’m ready and I want to play,” countered Altintop, fresh from a call-up to the Turkey squad for this week’s friendly with Cote d’Ivoire in Izmir. He can hardly wait for a first start since Matchday 2, a 1-1 draw in Dortmund: “I’m very, very impatient.”