When Kennedy Bakirgioclu’s career didn’t quite go the direction he wanted, he turned to Football Manager to live out his dream.
We’ve all been there, it’s half past two in the morning. You’re sat in front of your PC with bags under your eyes and a cold cup of coffee by your side. You’ve taken Hartlepool United from the depths of League 2 to the Champions League final. This is your moment.
You are without a shadow of a doubt the greatest manager the world has ever seen. With the ingenious purchases of Cherno Samba, Freddy Adu and your main man Kennedy Bakircioglu how could you not be? But how did one of these virtual superstars cope with not quite making it in the real world?
Kennedy Bakircioglu, the bald headed, string-pulling genius of Championship (and Football) Managers of old once had a trial at Manchester United at just 17 years of age.
“I trained with United for a couple of months when I was 17 and it was a dream come true. I’d train with their first team and play with the second string at a time when their squad was packed with big names like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, the Neville brothers, Dwight Yorke and Teddy Sheringham” recalls Kennedy.
After United’s initial interest failed to deliver a contract, the football manager superstar was left embittered and admits he chose to play out the missed career step on the game itself.
“I stepped into Sir Alex Ferguson’s shoes in the game. I signed myself for United. It was a case of what might have been. I played myself in the middle of the park, pushing David Beckham out right. I let him take the odd free-kick – he is the master, after all. His crosses made me look even better in the game.”
“I also signed myself for Barcelona and I remember thinking it was great to see my name listed in that squad, even though it was just a computer game. I played myself in the number 10 position, shunting Ronaldinho out wide this time to make way. It worked a treat.”
Bakircioglu is humble enough to admit that his on-pitch exploits never quite mirrored his Championship Manager performances. Although this is not something that really haunts him.
“I think it’s fantastic! For the last 10 years people have mentioned me in relation to the game – friends, team-mates and complete strangers. I remember when I was still at Hammarby, travelling to play a game against SK Brann in Norway. After the match one of their players approached me on the pitch and told me what a good player I was for him in the game. That kind of thing happened from time to time.”
In the game itself, there is no doubt that if you needed a silky playmaker to pull the strings in midfield, Kennedy was your man. In real life he didn’t quite fit the billing. However, Kennedy was by no means a bad player representing Ajax and Racing Santander.
Since moving back to Hammarby in 2012, he has scored 29 goals in 60 appearances. He was also known for some pretty slick comb overs.
Quotes taken from Football Manager Stole My Life. Published August 10 2012 by BackPage Press.