Known not only for his footballer identity but also for his ambition, discipline and professional life; legendary football player of Besiktas, Ilhan Mansiz has shared the unknown about him and more for you, discover readers.
Can you tell us about your plans upon completing your successful football career? What does Ilhan Mansiz have on his plate for the following days, where will we be seeing you?
Of course, I have certain plans but before talking about them I must address the beginning of your question. You said, ‘successful football career’ but actually my football life was not that successful when it comes to career planning.
I had a chance to see league championship, 3rd place in world cup, top scorer title and to play in UEFA and championship league in a very short period of time. My plan was to play football until I was 38. But this never happened due to many reasons. So, I cannot say that mine was a successful career. But I learned that you cannot plan success but you have a chance to plan your performance.
Now let’s talk about my life after football. I learned a new sport at 35, ice-skating. Now I’m interested in Golfing, again a new field for me and I can say that golfing plays the lead role in my career plans after football. It takes about 5-6 hour of my daily life but of course I want to include football as well. I think it is time for me to give back to football what it gave me. Because I got to live a lot of great things in a short time that maybe some sports players will never have a chance to live.
I participated in a seminar to accomplish this goal. It is called certified advanced studies of sports management. The first thing I learned there is never to have a vision that is single sided. Your vision is valuable when you get to return what you get from others. We should be sharing success just like we share happiness. So, I founded a consultancy firm in Germany to share my success and experience with the younger generation and maybe guide them to a better career than mine. I’m not going to call this agency because we provide various services besides the classic agency logic. As I was born and raised in Germany, I know the problems children that are stuck between two cultures have and I want to help and mentor them. We have experts that can provide service in every branch but of course the priority will be football.
What are the projects you have in 2018, do you have anything specific? Are you planning on being a part of social responsibility projects?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m planning n completed by training in a 4-month schedule in 2018 and improve myself in this field. Aside from that, yes, I support Beﬂiktaﬂ and I’m well mentioned when it comes to Beﬂiktaﬂ but I feel I owe Turkish football. That is why I want to come up with projects that will improve Turkish football. We have certain plans for that. I especially want to raise our younger generation from the youth team to a higher level and invest in our future. When it comes to social responsibility projects, I was in Munich about 10 days ago and I had lived there for 15 years. I moved to Istanbul from Munich. I definitely want to become a part of social responsibility projects after I do my research here.
Can you tell us a bit about 2002 World Cup and the time everybody learned the name Ilhan Mansiz? Do you think it’s a turning point in your life?
Sure. It’s 2018 and we’re still talking about an accomplishment, experience we had in 2002. It’s really doing you proud in a way but it also makes you think. From time to time I participate in interviews called “That Moment” with college students in which I tell them about the Golden Score. I tell them the same thing every time. “It is great that we are sitting here with you and talking about these. But if we are still talking about our former accomplishments then I feel like we have made something wrong and haven’t made any progress. That is why I believe that we should add more things to what we have achieved.”
I had my ups and downs before the World Cup. So, I couldn’t enjoy the fact that I was transferred to Beﬂiktaﬂ. I like struggling as well because it gives me a certain discomfort when everything goes smooth just like a straight line. Because I don’t like monotony.
If we are to talk about 2002 World Cup season, I can say that it was a good season personally. I became the top scorer and got invited to Turkish National Team for the first time at 26. As Senol Günes was thinking about a more defensive game plan, it was hard for me to get a chance at playing even though I was in a good shape that time… But I tried to do my best in that limited period of time when I had the chance to play. I scored a goal and it was the last golden score of the World Cups’. We were in semi-finals and I showed a quite good performance in the 3rd place match.
As we were in Japan in Asia, we didn’t know about the feelings, sensations and expectations here. But after we arrived at Istanbul Atatürk Airport and even before, when we entered into the airspace, two jets accompanied us it was a really proud moment. I will never forget the ride from the airport to Taksim Square. That was the first time we understood that we did something different at the World Cup. But of course, every accomplishment has its own negative perspectives. I was under the radar a lot. I was always under the radar with my clothes and style but this became a lot more prominent with the World Cup.
It was truly unbelievable when the security guy at my house in Ulus buzzed the door and said that 200-300 people were waiting for me outside. There is a rule that is always valid for a football player; ‘What happened yesterday is past. Today is the important thing.” You know there is a classic football saying, “We’ll focus on the forthcoming games.” It is really like that. Because if you are stuck in that moment, you cannot move forward. You will get passed. That’s why you should always think about your weekly programme in this long marathon. You are thinking about the Champions’ League, Turkey Cup, European Championship eliminations. In a way, you cannot enjoy that accomplishment as much as you want to.
But I can say that it was a really incredible time for me. I never said I wish this or that never happened in my life. Of course, there are some mistakes that I have made but I stand behind them and take the consequences. I try to interpret the results in a positive way afterwards.
Why golf? Is there any particular reason behind this choice? You are playing professionally and participating in THY’s cups as far as we know. Can you tell us about the impact it has on your personal life?
There is of course a particular reason behind choosing golf. It’s a sport that requires coordination between your hand, arm, eyes and the ball. Just like ice skating. Small mistakes can change the results a lot. So, even though some people don’t see it that way, it’s a very fun and difficult sport. You are struggling by yourself and staying alone with nature. But one of the biggest reasons I selected Golf is my age and I asked myself what sport I can do after I’m 40 for a long period of time and the only answer was golf.
I also have certain goals in golf as well. I’ve been playing for 2,5 years but I had to take a 6-month break. My handicap fell from 54 to 15. My target is to go down to 0-1. There is tournament called senior tour for those above 50. The only condition to participate in that tournament is to be 50 minimum and to have 1 handicap. I’m preparing for that without pushing myself too hard and enjoying what I’m doing. I believe that what we experience in sports like football or golf, is a great example for not just people but for companies as well.
How does your desire to do everything you lay your hand on professionally affect your private and social life? You were having a lot of fun at Game On for example. We saw you doing a Jedi Challenge. What kind of a person is Ilhan Mansiz outside his professional life? Does he have the same discipline?
Professionalism required you to let go of certain things. Social and private life for example. I really like living like a sports player. I’m trying to organise my life according to this. I try to do whatever a professional sports player does in my private life as well. Resting, dieting, and getting physical treatment for sports injuries is among these as well. I mostly like chilling at home, watching movies, eating with my friends. But I don’t go to night clubs after a certain hour. This is what being a professional requires. I started my professional sports life when I was 18 and I know how to have fun like a pro in my spare time.
Would you call yourself fun when describing yourself?
We should be asking this to the people around me actually. I define myself as a simple man. I’m a kind of guy that has a calm life, has discipline, and lives in a certain flow. The first time I enjoyed a summer holiday is when I met my girlfriend at 40.
I had 4 weeks off during my football career, yes but I only rested for 2-3 days and had double practice in a day afterwards. I’m not saying that that is the right thing to do. I made some mistakes there. I may have over trained because your body needs to rest after a long season.
I’m not a person that likes to sit still, I believe that I should constantly work and give effort to something. And I enjoy everything. I also enjoy training. Some people may think it’s tiring from outside but I like getting tired as well. If you don’t like what you do, then there is no chance of you becoming successful.
We are in June and Father’s Day is almost here. What kind of a father is Ilhan Mansiz? How did you feel when you first embraced your daughter?
I was there when she was born and I was 28. I tell people that she was the happiest and the most meaningful score of my life when they ask me. We are now separated with her mother due to private reasons and she is now living with her mom in another country. I try not to make her feel the absence of her father. I make her feel that I’m always there even if we do not see each other.
She’ll be 14 in August and 14 is a troubled age for girls as puberty begins. But as I’ve said before I’m trying to help as much as I can. Being far from each other has this disadvantage or advantage for children; the father feels bad as he is not spending all his time on the children and does a little bit more then he would normally do when they meet to make up for things. I try to educate her as honest and loving as possible. Of course, I cannot say no to her wishes but if she goes a little further then I talk to her like I would to an adult and try to make her understand. For example, rather than saying “I’m not buying this phone. That’s it.”, I try to explain her why we can’t buy it or don’t want to buy it and try to tell her that it is not appropriate for her age even though we can afford it and try to make her live her age.
What would you recommend if your daughter wants to choose professional sport life or if you have son in the future and he wants to become a professional football player? Would you like them to be professional sports players?
This is a question that is generally asked to former players but I don’t have that sort of a wish. Because then it would be my wish. If my child has different goals and thoughts then I would respect them. I would give my support and encouragement. I’ve always thought education was important and the first thing I say to my child or the football player I’m consulting is to complete your education. I tell them to improve themselves and get a profession. Because football is a process that is not certain when to begin or end. Your career may be finished in case of an injury. You must be prepared for that. I would never push my daughter or my potential other child to become a professional sports player.
We are living in the age of technology and we were in a gaming center in the stadium just now where young people can come and have fun. The idea here is to prevent teens from picking up bad habits and to provide them technological opportunities and maybe create a bond between them and sports.
How are you doing with technology? And lastly, what would you advise young people as a professional football player, a brother and a father in this age of technology?
Technology is not only a part of our lives now but it is almost our entire lives. Everybody has a smart phone.
Washing machines, TVs, fridges… everything in our homes is connected to one another with technology. So, we cannot completely give up technology. We must accept it as a part of our lives but we can only see the positive aspects if we use technology in a beneficial way. Of course, I like spending time playing games from time to time but there should be a time limitation for teens who are going to play games here. Yes, the goal here is to prevent them from picking up unpleasant habits, encouraging them to meet people with common interest and create a nice environment but I don’t think they should spend their entire spare time in a closed place. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but we have games we can play in the streets and you can enjoy clean weather outside. For example, a walk in Belgrad Forest can be organised and different activities can be planned.
Everything should be done in proportion. Families should enable their children to use technology after making a mutual decision instead of completely limiting them. But it’s important to put an age limitation. These are the advice I can give. But as I’ve said we cannot completely give up technology, it’s now a part of our lives.