Rustu plays up Turkey's prospects
Despite being ousted as Turkey's first-choice custodian, Rustu Recber is not bitter and hopes his presence can help inspire his side to an opening-day triumph against Portugal. ( uefa.com )
Luiz Felipe Scolari's team represent a tough proposition for Turkey in their first Group A fixture. Turkey have not beaten them in 53 years but the goalkeeper - who was on the losing side against the Portuguese at both EURO '96™ and UEFA EURO 2000™ - believes his side have the ability to upset the odds. "We know that it won't be an easy game against Portugal," he said. "It is obvious that they have a top-quality squad and we know they are one of the tournament favourites. But it doesn't put any pressure on us. We have self-confidence. Names won't win the game. Hard work and effort will decide who deserves the victory."
At 35, Rustu is an iconic figure in Turkish football, and while he has seen his place in Turkey's starting lineup pass to his former Fenerbahce SK understudy Volkan Demirel, he is fiercely proud of his place in the national squad - and the role he can still play. "We are a national team," he said. "The most important thing is not to complain about things. Your behaviour is even more important if you are on the bench. You can make a very valuable contribution to the team as a player or a substitute. Everyone know Turkish people are proud of their country so it is an honour just to be here."
Having played with Turkey on their UEFA European Championship finals debut in 1996, Rustu also featured at UEFA EURO 2000™ and then earned a bronze medal at the 2002 FIFA World Cup - still Turkey's crowning achievement in international football. Capped 116 times, he has no doubt that he is part of a squad capable of competing with the very best in Austria and Switzerland. "We are completely focused and our aim is to get to the final," said Rustu, who controversially left Fenerbahce for city rivals Besiktas JK in the summer of 2007. "We planned everything before this tournament. We came through some hard times - our path was not easy - but I can say that this team has the ability to get to the final."