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Always at it

My roots


My family's roots are in Turkey. Both my grandad and my parents were born there and I have many relatives still living there. My grandad came to Germany as a migrant worker and worked as a miner.

After he had found a new job and homeland in Germany, my grandmother, uncle and father also moved from Turkey to the Ruhr region. My grandfather worked in the Nordstern mine in Gelsenkirchen. My older uncle still works in the Prosper mine in Bottrop. Unfortunately I don't often have the chance to visit my hometown of Balikesir in Turkey. However I always really enjoy being there. Istanbul is really important for me too. The wide range of cultures makes it one of the most fascinating cities in the world for me.

Ruhr region

My parents live in Gelsenkirchen. I was born there and went to school there. It was there that I started playing football. No matter where I was or where I went, I always took my football with me.

My parents say I even took my football to bed with me. I practised in the lounge at home just as I did in the yard behind my parents' house. Our yard became a regular meeting place for all the children in the neighbourhood because it had garage doors that we could use as goals. I played there all the time with my brother. I learnt a lot from him because he was older and bigger than me. I always played with older people later on too and was always the smallest to begin with in the club. This is how I learned to assert myself.


Family and home are very important to me. I am extremely grateful to my parents for all the support they have given me from the beginning. As a child they drove me to every game and training session and were always there for me. They also taught me from an early age to act independently and reponsibly.

My uncle is one of the most important people in my life. He also supports me in all aspects of my career - just like my brother. He isn't just a close relation but he's also one of my best friends at the same time. I think it's important to have people around who I can completely trust, who see things critically when others praise me and stand by me when things aren't going to plan.

The first steps

SV Heßler 06

I can't remember any part of my life without football. My parents signed me up for a club very early on. They wanted me to find friends and learn to integrate myself in a social environment.

Even in the "Pampers League", when I was playing for SV Hessler 06, I trained twice a week and had a game at the weekend. When I was eight my trainer recommended I spend a year playing at FC Schalke but it wasn't really right for me. So I went back to SV Hessler and rejected another offer I got from Schalke three years later. For me it was important to develop further in a familiar environment without disruptions so that I could take the next step at the right time.

VfL Bochum

I remember my first game for VfL Bochum as if it were yesterday. I had transferred from a smaller club to Bundasliga VfL Bochum and was very excited about my first game. I can still feel the butterflies and excitement I felt before the game even today.

The start of my second year was a bit more difficult. I didn't get to play in the first game of the season. The coach let me stew on the bench for half of the second game against Aachen too. I finally got my chance after half time - and I used it. Shortly after I got on the pitch I scored the winning goal and we went on to win 1:0. This experience is fairly typical for my development. When I think that somebody doesn't believe in me, it spurs me on even more.


It's always been important for me to have fun playing football. Sure, today football has taken on an entirely different role and millions are at stake. But football is and remains a game and you can only be good at it when you play with enjoyment and passion.

I could just never get enough of football - and that is still true today. As children we played on the pitches and in the yard at my parent's house. Before school, during breaks, after school, before training, after training... From a young age I dreamt of turning my passion into my career. I'm happy and pretty proud that I actually managed to do it.

On the move

1. FC Nurnberg

I made my professional debut with 1. FC Nurnberg on the last day of the 2008/2009 division two season. We were playing at home against TSV 1860 Munich. Then came the relegation games against Cottbus and promotion to the Bundesliga..

I really had butterflies in my stomach whilst I was warming up behind the goal. After being a substitute during the previous games the coach told me that I was going to play in this game. I got the signal from the sideline. I ran to the bench and put on my shirt. There was a break in play and I finally ran onto the pitch during the 61st minute. I had goosebumps all over. After the season the coach told me that he was going to rely on me during the next Bundesliga season. That was a great motivator for me.


Ambition, hardwork and discipline are the most important attributes for achieving your goals. I needed a good portion of each of these attributes whilst I was sitting my high school leaving exams alongside my professional training at Nurnberg. It was always important for me to have security from a good education in addition to my career in football.

For me my double burden came through sport. I am very grateful to 1. FCN and especially to my former coaches Michael Oenning and Dieter Hecking for letting me finish my high school exams. My favourite subject at school was philosophy. I found dealing with different life perspectives regarding happiness particularly interesting. I can personally say that I have found my happiness with my career as a footballer.


Birthday: 24th October 1990
Place of birth: Gelsenkirchen
Nationality: German/Turkish
Height: 1.81m

Position: central midfield - play maker

Youth teams:
• 7/1993 – 6/1998: SV Hessler 06
• 7/1998 – 6/1999: FC Schalke 04
• 7/1999 – 6/2004: SV Hessler 06
• 7/2004 – 6/2005: SSV Buer
• 7/2005 – 1/2009: VfL Bochum

Professional teams:
• 2/2009 – 6/2011: 1. FC Nurnberg
• from 7/2011: Borussia Dortmund

In the thick of it


When I moved to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2011, my personal dream has come true. The BVB is one oft the most traditional football clubs in Germany, characterized by an outstanding fan surrounding. Both the stadium and the atmosphere are overwhelming. Every time I enter the stadium or stand in front of the yellow wall it is a very emotional moment for me.

From the first day on, I knew that it would not be easy to assert myself into the team. The team was equally equipped and everybody was hungry to play. Of course I was not satisfied with my performance in the first half of the season. But I never gave up and was more than delighted that the second half was so successful for the team and myself. With inspiring football we first got the German championship and than the German cup. What else could I have asked for?


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Ilhan Gündogan
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