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Hamit the all-rounder

Versatile Altintop at home on either flank

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Versatility has always been a much-prized quality in team sport, and nowhere more so than in football. A player who can fill more than one position is always a useful asset, whether providing cover for injured or suspended team-mates, or as a surprise tactical variation in specific matches. In recent weeks, Hamit Altintop has emerged as exactly the kind of all-rounder a trophy-chasing club can rely on in times of need.

The Turkey international made only his second start of the year 2010 in the Champions League quarter-final home meeting with Manchester United, expertly standing in for Arjen Robben on the right flank. In the semi-final return against Olympique Lyon, the 27-year-old was obliged to switch wings, deputising for Franck Ribéry on the left. In a remarkable team performance, Hamit stood out for his utterly assured and inventive display.

Attitude is key

“In modern football, you have to be able to attack and defend, so your nominal position doesn’t matter as much,” Altintop told “And if you come in to a functioning team, it’s not hard to fill different positions. Provided you’re flexible and willing, it’s achievable.” In other words, it’s all a question of mental discipline and the right attitude.

Hamit has needed all his professionalism to cope with limited playing time this season. “It’s not been easy. I’ve rarely played, and some days were frustrating,” said the Gelsenkirchen-born midfielder. However, Altintop has never let his head go down, nor has he voiced displeasure. Instead, he has delivered when called upon to do so. “I just concentrate on playing, and ignore the rest.”