World Cup legend Hakan Sukur, who scored fastest ever goal, is now working as Uber driver in exile in USA – The Sun | The Sun

HE was Turkey's most revered sportsman, recognised for his brilliance on the football field for Galatasaray and the national team.

The legendary forward also holds the record for fastest ever goal in a World Cup finals.

But now, if Hakan Sukur, now 51, steps foot in his own country, it's likely he'll face the death penalty or a life in prison, which is why he lives in exile in the US.

Hakan lives in California, in the wealthy area of Palo Alto in Silicon Valley, on the outskirts of San Francisco.

But he isn't a programmer and doesn't work for a hi-tech app company. Instead, he's an Uber driver and formerly ran a cafe.

"I moved to the United States, initially running a cafe in California, but strange people kept coming into the bar," he told German outlet, Welt am Sonntag.

He used to run a popular bakery called Tuts, where the house specials were dishes like Turkish sausage and eggs, and Greek-style pancakes.

It received rave reviews on rating website Yelp, with comments such as: "Oh my gosh. This is the best place in the Bay Area to eat delicious food with your friends.

"The staff is so kind and friendly."

But none of the customers mentioned that one of the men behind the cafe is Turkish football legend Hakan Sukur.

Back in the 1990s, the prolific striker WAS the idol of Istanbul.

Kids playing around the local bazaars all had Gala shirts with his famed number nine on the back and he could do no wrong.

Hakan scored 295 goals in three spells with the Turkish giants, played Premier League football with Blackburn for a season and had a spell in Serie A for Torino.

But even though it didn't work out for him in Italy and England, he was welcomed back to his own country with open arms.

He was always a hero, a role model and to this day, is still the best striker Turkey have ever produced.

His record 51 international goals back that statement up, and nothing in Turkish football indicates it will be broken any time soon.

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However, when Hakan retired in 2008 he sought out a life in politics.

In 2011, he was elected as an Istanbul MP for the Justice Development Party, a conservative political group that has ruled over Turkey since 2002.

The Bull of the Bosphorus was making strides and friends in government.

He aligned himself with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as maintained a friendship with cleric Fethullah Gulen.

In 2013 an alliance between Erdogan and Gulen, who was keen for Turkey to become an Islamic state was destroyed when a government corruption scandal erupted.

Erdogan blamed Gulen for the disruption, and given Hakan was seen as a disciple of the Gulen movement, it all started to go wrong.

That same year, the government closed all schools run by Gulenists and Hakan resigned from the governing party in protest to run as an independent.

Shortly after, Hakan gave a university speech where he told an audience of bemused students: "I am Albanian, as such I am not a Turk."

Given the political climate in a country that was aiming to regain its national identity, those comments weren't well-received.

In 2016, Hakan was charged with insulting President Erdogan on Twitter.

That summer, a trial began in absentia. Hakan claimed it wasn't his intention to insult Erdogan, but prosecutors disagreed.

In July that year, hell broke loose when a coup, organised by Gulen with the aid of a small fraction of the Turkish Armed Forces, attempted to overthrow Erdogan.

The coup was defeated, but more than 300 people had lost their lives, 120,000 people lost their jobs and 50,000 were arrested.

Anyone who had Gulen links was deemed a terrorist and labelled a member of FETO (Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation).

A warrant was issued for Hakan's arrest and he was charged with being a member of an armed terrorist group.

Hakan was given the opportunity to renounce his beliefs and love for the Gulen movement, but passed on the chance.

His father, Selmet wasn't so lucky. The authorities arrested him at a mosque in Adapazar and he was charged with financial coup support.

Somehow, Hakan managed to flee to America, but it was reported his father passed away in prison after battling cancer.

Hakan resurfaced in San Francisco County, in the wealthy surroundings of Palo Alto.

It's been reported that he lives in a £3million home in the area, has three luxury cars and is enjoying the high-life.

The fallen icon may never be able to return home, but it could've been a whole lot worse.

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