Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Voll Blau

Muzzy: My Story also win a meet/book

Recommended Posts

Wonder if he'll have a bit about him never reading a newspaper, since his dog used to rip it to shreds the minute I posted it through his letterbox every day

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wonder if he'll have a bit about him never reading a newspaper, since his dog used to rip it to shreds the minute I posted it through his letterbox every day


No but theres a bit in there about how he used to hang out the window and gob on the paperboy.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah theres a whole chapter about why he thinks Nigel is the best thing to happen to the club and how we can enjoy 20 years of Premiership footy under his guidance.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

No but theres a bit in there about how he used to hang out the window and gob on the paperboy.


Got a nice tip at christmas though so it's all good :thumbup:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking forward to getting this. Fave player growing up. Will love to get an insight in to his life as a footballer.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
"Excitement turned to frustration. Boos rang out. Louder, uglier. I wasn't expecting this..."

By Leicester Mercury  |  Posted: September 07, 2015


    Muzzy makes his debut vs Sheffield United. The game, the lowest point in Martin O'Neill's time here. "The game was just ugly, just plain ugly, " according to the Leicester Mercury.

 Comments (0)

In the first of an exclusive series of extracts from Muzzy Izzet's biography, written by Mercury feature writer Lee Marlow, the former Leicester City midfielder remembers his tumultuous debut at Filbert Street.

Leicester City played 15 games in the first three months of 1996. They won just three of them.

Perched comfortably in the top three for the first half of the season, promotion had looked almost certain under Mark McGhee.

And then, as it often does in football, everything changed. McGhee was lured away by what seemed – to him at least – a better proposition at Wolverhampton Wanderers.


After all sorts of to-ing and fro-ing Martin O'Neill quit his job at Norwich to join Leicester.

The Irishman arrived to great fanfare. Promotion is the aim, he told the Leicester Mercury in December 1995. It didn't go immediately to plan. O'Neill lost or drew his first seven games. City slumped from 2nd in the table to 9th in three months. The fans – who had thought promotion was a certainty – were getting restless.

On Saturday, March 30, 1996, Sheffield United came to Filbert Street. Sitting on the bench in the number 14 shirt, just two days after his arrival, was Muzzy Izzet. That afternoon - the afternoon Izzet made his debut – three months of frustration came to an ugly head....


'Izzet looks a bright prospect for the future'




I wasn't to know that Saturday, March 30, 1996, would go down as the lowest point of Martin O'Neill's four-and-a-half year tenure at City.

I sat in the dug out at Filbert Street, the ground about three-quarters full, the smell of match day in my nostrils, and I remember thinking that Filbert Street smelled like Upton Park, where I'd seen West Ham play so many times as a kid.

They were similar grounds in many ways. The stands right on the very edgeicon1.png of the pitch. Good atmosphere. Loud. Loud fans. Not slow to let you know, either, if they didn't think you were pulling your weight.

The air was thick with the smell of Benson and Hedges, stale beer and expectation. I looked out from the dug out and on to the pitch.

It was abysmal. A giant mud bath in the middle, mini-mud baths at both ends. I've played on better pitches at the local park.

On Saturday, March 30, 1996, I didn't know the gaffer was under pressure. I didn't know City had won just three of their 14 games since the start of the year, slipping from third in the table to ninth.

I wasn't looking at the big picture at that stage. I was too wrapped up in my own game.

The team that day contained a few surprises.


Carey, Walsh, Watts

Grayson, Taylor, Lawrence, Heskey, Whitlow, Claridge, Roberts

Me, Neil Lewis and Mark Blake were on the bench.

3-5-2. It was the way O'Neill liked to play; solid, hard to beat, three big centre-backs and two marauding wing-backs.

It wasn't the formation which let us down that day against Sheffield United. It was the personnel, or the lack of personnel. No Neil Lennon. No Garry Parker. City were missing the heart and soul of their midfield.

I took my seat on the bench and tried to look like I was taking it all in; calm, reflected, knowledgeable, ready. I was none of those things. I was petrified.

I remember very little of the next 90 minutes. I recall the atmosphere slowly changing from excitement and expectation to frustration and then anger. I heard one boo. Then another. And then the boos getting louder and uglier.

Sheffield United scored in the 62nd minute. O'Neill responded by bringing on me and Neil Lewis. A double substitution.

It would be nice to say this injection of fresh legs and ingenuity did the trick with half-an-hour left to play. Nice, perhaps, but a lie. It made little difference.

On the Monday after the game, the headline on in the Leicester Mercury's match report was blunt. "No Excuse For This Shambles."

It was difficult being without both Lennon and Parker, argued O'Neill on the back page. "With one or both of them I think it would have been a different story," he said. "But with neither of them - well, we didn't do enough and we didn't deserve anything from the game."

"Ugly, just plain ugly," was the view of seasoned Mercury reporter Paul Jones in his View From The Terraces piece.

"Ugly is the only to describe events on and off the field on Saturday. And you can't blame the fans for their furious reaction. The only surprise was that so many wanted to stay behind after being subjected to such a dreadful 90 minutes. The early bus homeicon1.png seemed like the best option - and many took the chance."

I scanned the report to see if I had been mentioned. I had. It was mercifully brief. "When Izzet came on he instantly became City's best midfielder on the day. He looks a bright prospect for the future..."

I was happy enough with that.

There was more. "... although now he has seen this, that future will surely lie back at Stamford Bridge once his loan ends, if he is any judge."

We'd hit the bottom. We could only go one way from here. The only way was up.



We went on a run - a run that culminated in a sunny Bank Holiday Monday at Wembley, the play-off final versus Crystal Palace; Steve Clardige shinning in an injury-time winner just after Martin O'Neill had bought on 6ft 8ins reserve keeper Zeljko 'Spider' Kalac for the expected penalties.

I bought Spider's old house in Markfield a few months later. I remember all the door openings had been made higher. He'd got someone in to do it. "I had to do it, Muz," he said, when we looked round the house. "I kept banging my head on the door frames."

When we moved in, we had the tallest doors and the biggest door frames in the whole of Leicestershire.

After beating palace, we travelled back up the M1 - cheering and waving at all the Leicester fans who were making the journey up the M1 back to the East Midlands with us.

That night, we had the biggest party at Sketchley Grange. All the players, management, the staff, friends and family. It was a brilliant night.

It was the most drunk I'd ever been - and the next day we had an open top bus tour around Leicester, which made us all feel a bit queasy.

We'd made it. The Premier League. Big time. We'd arrived.

It was the first day of the best four years of my life.



'It would be true to say that Muzzy Izzet was one of my favourites. In truth, he was everyone's favourite. He had, through his consistently brilliant performances, earned that right.'

Martin O'Neill wrote the preface to Muzzy's book. Here's a snippet:

"Muzzy Izzet was a wonderful footballer. His slim build belied a steely inner-strength capable of withstanding the toughest of challenges.

"Two-footed and always beautifully balanced, he possessed an uncanny ability to extricate himself from difficult positions and then glide past opponents.

"He was also an exceptionally good header of the ball under pressure but, perhaps his most endearing quality was his courage, both physical and moral, always the hallmark of a top-class player.

"He had a pretty high pain threshold, too, hence the large number of games he played each season. We were always a better team when he was in it.

"Popular in the dressing room, I believe, and popular with this particular manager, I know for certain.

"Some time ago, a disgruntled player knocked on my office door and demanded to know why he wasn't in the team. When I explained to him my reasons for not selecting him, he shot back: "Well, you've got your favourites," the implicit assumption being that he wasn't in that category.

" 'You're right'," I confessed. "'I do have favourites. They are usually the best players'."

It would be true to say that Muzzy Izzet was one of my favourites.

In truth, he was everyone's favourite. He had, through his consistently brilliant performances, earned that right.

Martin O'Neill, 2015



  'Muzzy Izzet was a Leicester legend. A proper Leicester legend.'  





Muzzy - My Story was written by Mercury feature writer, Lee Marlow. This is the introduction.


I interviewed Muzzy Izzet for the first time at the end of 2003/04 season. It was for a Leicester Mercury feature, looking back on City's relegation campaign. He doesn't remember it.

I'm not offended by that. He barely remembers his own name. But I do. I remember it.

I wanted to ask him about that Wolves game, when City were 3-0 up at half-time before somehow conspiring to lose 4-3.

I interviewed him. He was a bit wary at first, I remember. A bit guarded. Gradually, he seemed to thaw out.

He was funny. There were no platitudes or cliches. He was honest. I liked him. He seemed decent. I was relieved about that. Muzzy was my favourite player at City. I was pleased he seemed like a decent bloke.

Believe me, it's not always like that.

I interviewed him a few more times after that. He was always good value. We met once in a pub. We had a longer chat. "You should do a book," I said. "Nah," he replied. "No-one wants to read that."

I tried to persuade him that they would but he wouldn't have it and that's how we left it really. I'd see him occasionally, and I'd always say: "What about that book then?" and he'd always laugh and shake his head.

"No-one wants to read about me, saaaaahn." And that was that. Until one day, in the summer of 2012, he rang me up at work. "About that book," he said. "I've been having a think…"

Three years later, and here we are. I haven't worked out how many people he played with during his career. There must be hundreds of them. Muzzy only had a bad word to say about two of them (I'll leave you to find out who).

Everyone else – the lads he played with at his three professional clubs, his friends, neighbours, old school mates, work colleagues, the Turkey players he didn't understand… they were all right, he says. That tells you all you need to know about the man.

So this is his story.

A skinny East End kid from a Turkish family who, against all odds, made it. A World Cup semi-final. Premier League. Cup finals. Europe.

People bandy the word 'legend' around so much now that it's lost some of its meaning. But Muzzy Izzet was a Leicester legend. A proper Leicester legend.

Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Excitement-turned-frustration-Boos-rang-Louder/story-27750411-detail/story.html#ixzz3l4DHbsH2 
Follow us: @Leicester_Merc on Twitter | leicestermercury on Facebook

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do love Muzzy but I'd prefer it if this book was straight from him. It comes across as a bit over-dramatized in it's delivery and it sounds like a writer is pretending to be him.


Martin's preface is in a better tone, it sounds more like it's coming from him though I doubt it's word for word written by him.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't know why it makes me laugh that Kalac had to get custom-made, larger door

frames lol lol

Apparently Kante has bought that very same house.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Apparently Kante has bought that very same house.

Will probably get the door frames lowered considerably...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

MON's hair in that picture lol. Looks like a mad professor!

He is , his hobby is attending old Bailey murder trials and studying forensic psychology !!!!!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Leicester City were a team built in Martin O'Neill's image. Did we fear him? We absolutely did."

By Leicester Mercury  |  Posted: September 08, 2015

  • 10898284-large.jpg

    Muzzy Izzet

 Comments (0)

In the second part of our serialisation of Muzzy Izzet's new book, the former City midfielder talks about the genius of Martin O'Neill.

It's the question I'm asked most these days, more often than: 'How are you, mate?' or 'What are you doing now?' or even 'How about that overhead kick at Grimsby, eh?'

The most recurring question is: 'So – what was Martin O'Neill really like?'

And I'll smile, usually, and say he was a genius or something – and he was, and most people seem happy with that. But it doesn't cover it, because it was more than that.


And it wasn't just Martin, either. There were three of them. The Three Wise Men of Leicester City. Because when people talk about Martin O'Neill they often overlook John Robertson and Steve Walford, his coaches. I don't. The other players who were there, the lads who played for them, they don't either. We know how important they were to the team's success.

How did it work? I wish I could tell you. I wish I could boil it down and lay it out, simple, straight-forward, there it is: this is what it was.

But I can't – because I'm not entirely sure how they did it. They were three very different characters. City were also a small, underachieving club in the East Midlands with not much money and a well-earned reputation of being something of a yo-yo club, bobbing between the top two flights. It shouldn't have worked. And yet it did.

It worked like magic. I have friends who say, if you could have one day again from your career, what would it be? And I can't choose. There are so many.

Turning up at Old Trafford. Anfield. Elland Road. Stamford Bridge. Villa Park. Goodison Park. St James' Park. All these places where no-one gave us a hope and yet climbing back on to the bus for the trip home with a crate of beer and three points in our pocket; singing and drinking and laughing and joking all the way home to Leicester.

Can I have one of those days again? Just one? I want them all again. They were magniff.

So how did it work?

Firstly, and most importantly, he made you feel wanted. Not just O'Neill, but Robbo and Wal, too. I don't care who you are or what you do, you want to know that the work you do is appreci- ated.

I felt that from the first day at Leicester. I remember John Robertson walking off the Belvoir Ground training pitch with me one morning.

I'd been there a week. I was still wide-eyed and nervous, ridiculously keen to impress. And we walked off and he said: "Thanks for coming up here to help us out, son."

He said this to me as if I, this skinny little Turkish kid from the East End, was somehow doing him and this club a favour. He valued me.

It was a simple thing, a small thing – but it meant so much in those early days and weeks. I'd never had that at Chelsea. I knew right then, in my first week at Filbert Street, that I wanted to stay at Leicester.

Leicester City were a team built in Martin O'Neill's image. Did we fear him? We absolutely did.

He didn't lose his temper often but when he did, you didn't want to be around. You certainly didn't want to be on the receiving end of it. It was fearsome. He would blow at half-time, on occasion, or sometimes at the end of 90 minutes. And when he went it was a sight to behold.

Did he ever have a go at me? Not really. And if he did, I didn't have a go back. I learned early on there was no point.

There was a game at home to Arsenal, August 1997, the famous one we drew 3-3, when Bergkamp scored a hat-trick but we pulled it back when Walshy scored in the 96th minute.

I came in at half-time and I knew I hadn't played well. I couldn't get near them. They were too good. I came in and hoped the boss hadn't noticed. Some chance.

"What the f*** is up with you today?" he said.

I shrugged.

"Wherever the ball is, you're not. What's going on? Sort it out.

And sort it out quick – or you're off."

I nodded. I had every intention of sorting it out. But I didn't. Early in the second half, the board went up. Come in number 6. Martin took me off early. I walked past him and sat on the bench.

I said nothing. He said nothing. I hated it. I hated being substituted, especially when I knew it was deserved. I'd let him down and we both knew it.

When things like that happened, it was a wake-up call. I needed to up my game. I stayed late in training for weeks after that match; I got Steve Beaglehole, the youth-team coach, to knock balls in to me. Just for half an hour or an hour, working on my touch and my passing. I wasn't alone. We all did that. We didn't want to let anyone down.

Martin was a master at psychology. After we lost to Spurs in the 1999 Worthington Cup Final in a dull but tetchy game, there were all sorts of headlines in the nationals about the tension between the two teams.

Typically, a week after the final, we had Spurs away at White Hart Lane. We were fired up. We wanted our revenge. They would have been fired up, too.

We warmed up before kick-off and they were playing the winning goal and the highlights of the final on the screens. We could feel the atmosphere getting more angry, more agitated.

In the changing room, Martin announced that he wanted us to form a guard of honour and clap the Tottenham players onto the pitch.

It wasn't something we were that enamoured about, to be honest, but we did it because the gaffer wanted us to do it. We just thought he wanted us to do it because it was nice gesture.

It was a nice gesture – but it completely threw them; their manager, George Graham, the players and the fans, too. They didn't know what to do. You could see it on their faces.

The fans didn't know whether to boo us or applaud us. It neutralised the atmosphere immediately. We outplayed Spurs that day, winning 2-0 with goals from Matt Elliott and Tony Cottee. It was the first time Spurs had lost at home for six months.

We'd got 'em back – and it was all due to Martin and his guard of honour. We went unbeaten for the next five games.

If we won, we celebrated. It didn't matter if we were battered, if we won, if we got all three points, then that was all that mattered.

We went away to Leeds once, early in the 1997/98 season. We won 1-0. Walshy scored. I'm sure it was the only attempt we had on target. They battered us, absolutely battered us that day but, somehow, we clung on.

Afterwards, it felt like we'd won 5-0 and played them off the park. There was no inquest in the changing room. We got on the bus and we sang our way home. We always did that at Leicester. We celebrated success.

Martin loved to win. When we'd won and you'd played well, he'd drape his arm round your shoulder and he'd fill your soul with confidence. It was emotional nourishment. It felt good. And that would last all week. John Robertson would do the same thing, too; over and over again, in your ear, telling you how good you'd been, how you'd bossed it in midfield, how you'd "won the game for us."

You show me a footballer who doesn't want to hear something like that. It made you want it every week. I wanted Martin or Robbo to tell me every week I was the best midfield player in the Premiership because when they did, it made me feel 10 feet tall. We all wanted to please him. We played for each other, we played for the fans, we played for ourselves – but mainly we played for Martin, Robbo and Wal.

MARTIN loved his trips away with the lads. Cloughie did it during his time at Forest, and he carried it on at City. We didn't mind that at all.

I remember one trip to Tenerife, we were due to play cricket on the beach. Martin liked his cricket. A big team game would be a good laugh, he used to say. It's fair to say Martin enjoyed the cricket more than us, I think.

His idea was that everyone would get a bat. It took ages. I think some of the lads were getting a bit tense because it was dinner time and it was starting to cut into our drinking hours.

The last man to come in was The Gaffer. He fancied himself as a batsman. So there he was, marking out his crease, making all the defensive shots, leaving a ball if it went wide of the stumps, putting his front foot out and lifting his bat. All of that. All very serious, like he was bedding himself in for a long knock.

I forget who bowled but a ball came down, he played at it, missed, clipped his foot with the bat and the ball came through to me at first slip. I caught it. I didn't appeal. I knew he hadn't hit it. Walshy was standing next to me. He went straight up, hands in the air. "HOWZAT!!??!"

Everyone else joined in. He wasn't out. He hadn't hit it. He was nowhere near it. But there we were – a dozen grown men all shouting HOWZAT loudly on a public beach in Tenerife.

Robbo was umpiring. He put his finger up. "I think you were out, Gaffer, all the lads think so, too," he said. Martin threw his bat down. He was furious. He moaned about it for the rest of the trip. We went back to the hotel, showered, changed and went straight out on the lash.

FOR four years, we overachieved at Leicester City during Martin O'Neill's time. City were an honest club full of old-fashioned, honest footballers, steeped in good values like hard work, determination and camaraderie.

Martin had resisted offers from Leeds and Everton. There may have been others that we never knew about. But when Emile left, and then when Celtic came in, we knew, really. We knew that was the end.

At the culmination of that 1999/2000 season, Martin took all of his staff to London. A show. A few drinks. Staying over at a nice hotel. He did it every year. They all loved him for that.

But that night, after the show, Martin didn't show up. He'd gone to meet someone from Celtic.

And that was that. The end of an era.

No-one saw him again.


* 'Muzzy Izzet - My Story' is published by Trinity Mirror Sport Media

Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Leicester-City-team-built-Martin-O-Neill-s-image/story-27757153-detail/story.html#ixzz3l9U9wTeG 

Follow us: @Leicester_Merc on Twitter | leicestermercury on Facebook

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

"​I talk about the World Cup, the semi-final, how proud I felt. Secretly, I wanted to come home."

By Leicester Mercury  |  Posted: September 09, 2015

  • 10906062-large.jpg

    Unlucky for some: In Turkey, the number 13 is considered lucky. It didn't feel like that for Muzzy Izzet in the 2002 World Cup.

 Comments (0)

It's June 25, 2002, late evening in Japan, lunch time in the UK. The second half of the World Cup semi-final is inching towards its predictable close.

Brazil are beating Turkey 1-0 in the Saitama Stadium, Japan's largest football ground. A capacity 61,058 crowd is inside. About 600 million are watching at home.

Sitting on the bench, wearing the number 13 shirt, is Muzzy Izzet. The number 13 is considered lucky in Turkey. It doesn't feel that way for Izzet.

The number 13 doesn't know what's going on. He doesn't speak Turkish. No-one speaks English. He has spent every game of the World Cup sitting on the bench. He has been away from his family for nearly two months.

In the 73rd minute, with Brazil 1-0 up thanks to a moment of individual brilliance from Ronaldo, the Turkish manager, Senol Gunes, puts his arm round Izzet's shoulder.

He says three words to him in English. They are the only words he has uttered in the past two months that Muzzy Izzet has understood. "On the right".

Umit Davala comes off. Muzzy is about to play in the biggest game of his life.




I have a series of stock answers I reel out when people ask me about the World Cup in 2002.

"Aw, yeah mate, it was great." "Aw, yeah, the crowds... the atmosphere… it was all brilliant." "That Brazilian team – yeah, they were good. Best I've played against."

I tell them about me on right, Roberto Carlos, the world's finest full back, on the left. A World Cup semi-final. One game away from The Big One, the final of the World Cup.

I tell them how proud I felt running on to the pitch in the red of Turkey and the crowd and the expectation and how the next 20 minutes passed by in the blink of an eye, a flash of gold and blue.

And that's all true.

People are usually happy enough to hear that. They don't want to know any more. So I don't tell them.

The truth is that I didn't feel that at the time. I feel that through the warm glow of nostalgia.

At the time, as the tournament wore on and I sat on the bench – watching, waiting, not getting a look in – I just wanted to come home.

I've never had home sickness before. Playing football means spending huge amounts of time away from home.

You travel. You sit on coaches and the world passes by your window but you laugh and you joke, you play cards or, as we did at Leicester, you open a can and you have a drink, and the time flies by. It's all fine.

The World Cup in 2002 wasn't like that. It might have looked like it was. We wanted for nothing. I was treated like a Turkish prince for the best part of two months.

Every day, there would be a knock on my door and someone would hand me a new mobile phone or a top-of-the-range camera or a DVD player, a camcorder, a laptop.

They were gifts from the sponsors. They were handed out like party prizes. My hotel room looked like a ransacked Comet store.

I had everything in the summer of 2002. I wanted for nothing. And yet I'd never been so lonely in my life.

You need to know how this started.

I was born in Mile End Hospital, East London. The sound of Bow Bells greeted my birth on October 31, 1974. I am a proper East Ender.

I lived in a two-bedroom flat off the Vallance Road in the heart of East London, with my Turkish Cypriot dad, Mehmet, my English mum, Jacqueline, and my younger brother, Kemal.

I was born in England. But I had a Turkish name. I ate pie and mash and watched Only Fools and Horses but I also ate dolma, rolled vine leaves pickled in brine, stuffed with minced meat.

We had big Turkish gatherings where it seemed that I was related to every single person in the room.

People would sing and dance at these gatherings and I loved every one of them.

But I supported West Ham and when Gary Lineker scored for England I cheered as loudly as my English friends.

I was one half English, one half Turkish. What did I consider myself? Well, I considered myself a bit of both. Why not? That's what I was.

My dad came to London in 1959. He was three years old.

To this day, his first memory is that boat trip, his mum being so sick all the way here she couldn't leave her cabin.

My dad was brought up here. He doesn't remember anything of Cyprus. London was my home, too. It was all either of us knew.

When I was six years old, I was circumcised. It's one of my earliest memories. It's not a pleasant one.

They call it a Sunet in Turkey and it's marked, naturally, with a party; a Sunet party. They like to celebrate, the Turks.

Even the removal of a terrified six-year-old boy's foreskin is an excuse for a party. I liked the party. I was less keen on the circumcision.

My Nan paid for it. She insisted every good Turkish boy needed to be circumcised.

"Will it be painful, Dad?" I remember asking my father, as he ruffled my hair and tried to pretend that it wouldn't hurt and that, instead, it would make a man of me.

I knew, though. I knew he wasn't telling me the truth.

They gave me an anaesthetic, thankfully, but I remember vividly lying on the operating table with a huge screen over my midriff so I couldn't see what they were doing. All I remember was a bandage the size of a baked bean can.

You might think you can imagine how painful that was but you can't. Not really. It was agony. The agony lasted for days.

When I first played for Turkey, the other players gathered round in the changing room, pointing at my old chap. They wanted to know if I'd had it done, if I was "a good Turkish boy".

So I showed them. They nodded their approval. And that was that.

I can safely say that I've never shown my penis before, or since, to a group of approving young men, but, if nothing else, it seemed to help the bonding process.

I have a young son today. He will know all about his Turkish heritage. He will be a good Turkish/English boy – but he won't go through that.

In June 2002, I left Leicester for Turkey to meet up with the Turkish squad. The World Cup was still two weeks away. The longest summer of my life was about to begin.

It was a good squad, that Turkey squad, with some fine players and they seemed like genuinely nice fellas, too.

But there was a chasm there, between me, this East End boy, a second-generation Turk, and them.

No-one spoke any English in the Turkish camp. I spoke no Turkish. I'd come from a dressing room at Leicester where we all knew each other, where the joking was relentless.

There was banter in this dressing room, too. It was just that I didn't get it. It's hard work, that, when everyone is laughing at a joke you don't understand.

A dressing room – a successful dressing room – turns on the camaraderie of its playing squad; the craic, the mickey-taking, the in jokes. All the good teams have that. It brings a squad closer together.

We had that at Leicester. That Turkey squad had it, too. You could see they had it. It was just that I didn't get it.

Who's fault was that?

It was my fault.

My biggest regret with Turkey is not the games I missed or any of my performances on the pitch. It was that I never learned the language. I should have done. It would have helped me settle in.

Football was the only thing that could lift me from the stupor I felt during the World Cup and as the semi-final approached, my mood started to lift.

A semi-final of the World Cup. A semi-final of the World Cup vs Brazil, the world's finest team. It is a big thing. How many players get that, I kept saying to myself. Not many.

We trained hard for the game. I was on the bench. Again. I didn't expect to play.

It was a decent game, an open game, considering the biggest prize of all – a place in the World Cup final – was at stake.

In the 73rd minute, our team 1-0 down but still pushing forward, Gunes called me over.

I don't know what happened. Maybe Davala was struggling. I don't know. It didn't look like he was. He was a good player, Davala. I rated him. We all did.

Get ready, someone on the bench said to me. You're going on.

I was sitting there in my socks, my shorts, and my untied boots. I felt my heart pounding loudly in my chest.

I'm going on. I'm actually going on.

Gunes put his arm round my shoulder and pointed to the far side of the pitch.

On the right, he said.

That's all he said to me. That was all he said to me in eight weeks. On the right.

I'd come from a team where I knew exactly what I was doing. Here, now, for the biggest game of my life, I knew nothing.

But you know what? I didn't care. I was on. For the first time in two months, I felt good, too.

I ran over to the right. I looked up. Roberto Carlos. Probably the finest left back in the world. He didn't even look tired.

I wouldn't try to skin him. There would be no point. I'd come inside. I'd bring him with me. I'd create holes all over the back four. I would make endless runs from the right into the box.

Feed me. Give me the ball.

I played the most selfish 20 minutes of football I think I've ever played in my life. I ran into the box, time after time after time.

I thought: "I've got 20 minutes. I'm going to do everything I can to score." I'm not naturally a selfish player. I was that game.

It passed in a blur, those 20 minutes. I watched the clock tick down, the dream evaporate. I've never seen the game on video.

There's a copy knocking around at home, somewhere. I don't want to watch it.

The full-time whistle went. We shook hands with our opponents. I swapped shirts with Roberto Carlos.

I gave that shirt away a few years later to a chap in my village who was looking to auction things to raise money for his poorly son.

I left for London the day after the third place play-off. I was stopped at Heathrow with a bag of American dollars and a suitcase full of electrical equipment, which raised eyebrows at customs.

"I've been at the World Cup," I said. I showed them my medal and my Turkey shirts. They nodded and let me through. I exchanged some of my dollars for English pounds and hailed a cab. "South Leicestershire, mate – take me home."

I couldn't wait to get home.

Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/8203-talk-World-Cup-semi-final-proud-felt/story-27764297-detail/story.html#ixzz3lKCzBi4U 

Follow us: @Leicester_Merc on Twitter | leicestermercury on Facebook

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Muzzy Izzet: "I started to feel a bit sorry for Peter Taylor - he was out of his depth."

By Leicester Mercury  |  Posted: September 10, 2015

  • 10914733-large.jpg

    You're paying me how much??!! - Peter Taylor and Muzzy Izzet at a press conference to announce his new deal at the club.

 Comments (0)


October 1, 2000. A Sunday.

Leicester City came away from Sunderland's Stadium of Light with a grim 0-0 draw, which made it 16 points from the first eight games of the season. And with that, the Foxes climbed to the top of the Premier League table.

"ON TOP OF THE WORLD!" said the jubilant back page of the Leicester Mercury the next day, and the paper rolled out a feature about the last time City sat at the pinnacle of football's top flight, way back in 1963.


The season had hardly begun but the city of Leicester was awash with excitement. Great work by Peter Taylor, everyone agreed. He was voted the Premier League's Manager of the Month. Well done, Leicester. Well done, Peter. Great stuff.

Everywhere we went that week, people wanted to shake my hand and pat me on the back.

"Well done, son."

"Top of the league."

"Let's keep this going all season."

All of that, everywhere I went. And I smiled and said nothing.

Because, secretly, it made me feel a bit queasy. I knew the truth. I knew what was really happening and what was about to happen. I was seeing it from the inside. I could see it was all starting to unfold.

Peter Taylor may have managed to do what Martin O'Neill never did – guiding City to the top of the Premier League – but the truth was he, we, Leicester City, had fluked it.

Scratch the surface – and you don't have to scratch very hard, either – and an inconvenient truth emerges.

Our second game of the 2000/01 season was away at West Ham. We won 1-0. I remember that game vividly because it was one of the most one-sided matches I'd ever played in. West Ham battered us that day. It was embarrassing.

Look at the fixtures.

First game: Villa at home – D

Then West Ham away – W

Bradford City away – D

Ipswich home – W

Southampton home – W

Chelsea away –W

Everton home – D

Sunderland away – D

So, yeah, we were on top of the league, unbeaten, the best team in the country in October, 2000. But with the exception of Chelsea away, it wasn't the toughest of starts, was it?

On Boxing Day 2000, we went to Highbury to face Arsenal. They beat us 6-1 that day. We were dreadful.

We won four of the next 18 Premier League games; 12 points in the next five months. It was relegation form.

People talk about the wheels coming off for us that season when we lost 2-1 at home to Wycombe Wanderers in March in the FA Cup. And it was bad, that afternoon, sure.

I pulled my calf muscle early in the second half. We'd used all three subs so I couldn't come off. I hobbled around on it and it finished me for the rest of the season.

I spent the rest of that campaign watching from the sidelines as our season drifted away. It was awful, absolutely awful, to watch.

It's convenient to say it all started to go wrong there, in that Wycombe game, but it's not true. The truth is that it had started to go wrong long before then. And everyone within the club knew it. Even, I suspect, Peter Taylor.

And yet, every month, as everything that Martin O'Neill built seemed to crumble around me, I received a pay slip that was so astronomically huge that I used to look at it and laugh.

How did that happen? Let's go back a bit...

Chelsea had been in touch during preseason. They wanted me to move back to Stamford Bridge on a free at the end of the season. They were offering £40,000 a week, my agent Jonathan Barnett told me.

"You don't need to do anything yet," he said, "but have a think about it, eh?"

I put the phone down and laughed. It seemed incredible.

Pre-season, Peter Taylor called me in. We had a meeting; me, my agent, Peter Taylor and Andrew Neville, the club secretary. He'd heard that Chelsea were interested in me. Nothing like that stays secret in football for very long. He wanted to offer me a new contract, he said. I was on £10k a week. "We want to pay you more than that," he said.

"What you need to know," said Barnett, "is that Chelsea are willing to pay him £40,000 a week. So, if you want him to stay then we need to be looking somewhere around there."

I didn't say anything. I let Jonathan do the talking. I sat in the office and looked at my shoes. I was embarrassed. I wasn't at Leicester for the money. I didn't play football for the money. It never has been my motivation.

The club couldn't match that, said Taylor.

"Well, this is where we are, gentlemen," said Barnett. " You need to have a think about that." And with that, the meeting ended.

We'd barely had the chance to talk about it when Peter Taylor caught up with us in the car park. He had a piece of paper in his hand.

"We can't match £40k a week," he said. "But we can offer you £35k a week."

This was the deal – £35k a week, if I played or if I didn't play, over four years. I tried to do the maths, quickly, in my head. I couldn't. All I knew was that it was more than £1m a year. "We want you to stay," said Taylor. "It's a good offer. Please think about it."

I knew what I was going to do instantly. I was going to stay. They had more than tripled my money. It was a fabulous offer.

Would I have accepted less? I would. I liked it at Leicester. I was settled in the county. Carly was pregnant. She liked it here, too. How much less would I have accepted? I don't know - but I didn't really want to go back to Chelsea.

In the days after I was offered my new contract, there were more meetings. Matt Elliott was called in. His contract was improved. So was Lenny's. So was Sav's. Clearly, Taylor wanted to keep us at the club.

I don't know what the others were offered. I still don't to this day. I suspect Lenny was offered a bit more than me. I don't know. We didn't talk about it.

A changing room is no different to any other workplace. You don't bang on about how much you earn, do you? Well, apart from Sav. He was on about it relentlessly, forever trying to get me, Lenny and Matty to tell him. We didn't tell him. It drove him mad.

As me, Lenny, Matty and Sav were given huge contracts to stay, Peter Taylor made his biggest mistake – he had a huge clear-out of Martin O'Neill's squad.

Good players in important positions – players such as Steve Walsh, Tony Cottee, Ian Marshall, Stan Collymore – all left the club. Garry Parker retired and joined the coaching staff.

Emile Heskey had left the previous season to join Liverpool. Lenny left for Celtic at Christmas.

Suddenly, the nucleus of Martin's Leicester City side had disappeared. You can't lose players of that calibre and not feel it. We felt it. We felt it all over the park.

I didn't think then, and I still don't now, that they deserved to be treated the way they were. It was a confusing time for me.

On the one hand, Taylor had come in and he'd bombed out good players, good friends of mine, kicked out of the club they loved. I had the hump about that for weeks.

And yet, on the other hand, he'd given me a contract worth £35k a week. I used to drive in to training thinking: 'You bastard - but thanks.'

As we struggled, Taylor started doing odd things in the dressing room.

His pre-match talks became more complicated. He used to get us running on the spot, shouting positive messages. He got us to form little huddles and chant. We all did it, too.

We had to, although some of us did it more convincingly than others. I was a bit embarrassed by it. I thought it was a bit patronising. A good team shouldn't need to do stuff like that.

I started to feel a bit sorry for him. He was a decent enough bloke – but he was out of his depth.

We finished 13th that season. It flattered us. The club gave Peter Taylor their backing and a new contract. A few of us were worried by that. If we started next season the way we'd finished that one, we'd be in trouble. We could see that. Surely we wouldn't do that, though?

It was the last season at Filbert Street. A brand new 32,500- capacity stadium was rising from the ground 500 yards down Raw Dykes Road.

No-one wanted to contemplate starting that season in a brand new stadium, in Division One.

I remember the fixture list coming out.

First game: at home and against Bolton Wanderers.

Phew, we all said. We should be all right there...



Peter Taylor's other big mistake, after letting all these good players leave the club, was that he didn't replace them with the same quality. He bought some players who simply weren't cut out to play Premier League football.

He knew he had to replace Lenny. He bought Matt Jones in December 2000, shortly after we'd beaten Leeds at Filbert Street. It was Lenny's last game at Leicester. Matty, a lovely lad, didn't play well that day. I remember wondering, on the back of that performance, if we hadn't made a big mistake.

Matty was unlucky with injuries. We didn't see the best of him at City but I think he also suffered with the comparisons to Lenny and the price tag.

A few months later he bought Junior Lewis. He'd bought three midfield players in a bid to somehow fill the one gap that Lenny left. He still didn't fill that gap.

We got Roberto Mancini on loan. He had some class touches in training. But he was in his mid-30s. He couldn't run. He didn't track back. He had vision and he could read the game, but I don't think I saw him put a tackle all the while he was at City.

When I was a kid, I played with Ade Akinbiyi in the London youth leagues. Ade was a lovely lad and as hard as nails.

Every day, in training, he was on fire. He had the lot – pace, power, determination – and he was clinical.

Ade's problem – and it was hardly the lad's fault – was the weight of expectation that came with him. He was Leicester's record buy. There was so much pressure on his shoulders, that when he faltered, when the game started and he missed one chance, and then maybe another, and the cheers turned to boos, it got to him.

Then there was Trevor Benjamin. Trev's eye-sight wasn't great. Matt Elliott was in the treatment room when Trev had his medical.

He was having his eye test and was holding his right hand to his right eye and reading down the table of letters. It wasn't going well. He managed to read the first two rows and started to struggle.

"Ok then," the doctor said, "now let's try with your good eye."

"But that was my good eye," said Trev.

We all called him Clarence, after the short-sighted Ronnie Barker TV character. The jump, from Cambridge to Leicester City in the Premier League, was too much for him. It wouldn't have been such a big deal, perhaps, if Taylor had bought him for £300,000. But he was five times that.

There were others. Ade and Benjamin attracted the most attention because they were the strikers. But Taylor bought worse players.

Kevin Ellison, a winger, had been playing semi-pro before he signed for us. His first City game, I think, was Manchester United away. He came on and played on the left in front of Gupps. I don't think Guppy was that impressed with that.

Read more: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Muzzy-Izzet-started-feel-bit-sorry-Peter-Taylor/story-27772638-detail/story.html#ixzz3lKE3wtOZ 
Follow us: @Leicester_Merc%

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It might be tad dramatic at times but I think I'll buy the book as I only started to support them in Adams era just before they went down so it will be good for me to brush up MON's era so I can feel a part of all success. 

Edited by The Blur

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...