As Colin Kazim-Richards ran out for Turkey in the 2008 European Championships, Corinthians, Brazil’s most supported domestic side, were deep into their Serie B season trying to find their way back into Serie A. That year proved to be pivotal in both his and Corinthians stories.
Kazim, as he has become known in Brazil, put in solid displays throughout the tournament and his first notable appearance on the global football stage was not to be his last; as the London-born Turk, who started his senior career at Bury Town FC, would soon be turning out in the Champions League quarter final against Chelsea- in which he scored.
That same year, Corinthians gained promotion back to Serie A, in a season that the ‘Fiel’ (faithful) supporters continue to hark back to to this day as club defining season.
Now the club and the man have seen their stories combine, at least for now, with Kazim-Richards joining the Sao Paulo side just after Christmas last year. Corinthians are looking to rediscover the dominance they experienced under former coach Tite, who left to take up his dream job in charge of the now rampant Selecão.
Across the city, arch-rivals Palmeiras, who tend to represent a richer, more middle class fanbase (founded by the Italian community of Sao Paulo), ran away with the league last season and the Fiel are eager to get one over on their city neighbours.
Palmeiras will be without last season’s starlet Gabriel Jesus, after his move to join Guardiola and Co in Manchester and whilst Corinthians may have failed in their lucrative attempt to bring Drogba to the Itaquerão, Kazim could be the frontman the Fiel have been missing.
Corinthians supporters have seen some big names carve-out a name for themselves or redefine careers at the club. Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez both speak highly of their time at the club and Kazim has all the traits, not only built for the Brazilian strikers game, but to win over the fans too.
A player who gives 110%, with great movement, despite maybe having lost a few yards of pace over the years (although technical, the Brazilian domestic game is slow), he has already endeared himself the the faithful with his desire to speak Portuguese in press conferences and with his ‘Gringo da Favela’ nickname looking set to stick over the coming campaign.
He’s certainly one to watch in Brazil this season, as the Fiel hope the man from East London can bring goals to the Zona Leste of Sao Paulo….