Halil Altintop insists sixth-placed Augsburg aren't thinking about Europe just yet
Halil Altintop insists sixth-placed Augsburg aren't thinking about Europe just yet

Altintop: 'Securing our place in the Bundesliga is still our goal'

Belek - With more Bundesliga goals and appearances under his belt than any other Turkish footballer past or present, FC Augsburg's is already one of the German game's many cult heroes.

Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, the former 1. FC Kaiserslautern, FC Schalke 04 and Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder - a player Fuggerstädter head coach Markus Weinzierl recently described as "irreplaceable" no less - discusses life in south-west Bavaria, his side's goals for the rest of the season and a future without football...

bundesliga.com: Halil Altintop, you were born in the Ruhr district, but play for Turkey. Was the training camp in Belek a homecoming for you?

Halil Altintop: I see Gelsenkirchen as my home, but of course I feel really happy in Turkey and I'm delighted that's where we were for out training camp. The conditions were fantastic for our preparations for the Rückrunde.

bundesliga.com: When Augsburg enquired about you, you were playing in the Turkish Süper Lig for Trabzonspor. What did you know about Augsburg at the time?

Altintop: I knew about it being a nice, little city. I only knew that because many of my playing colleagues had gone there for surgery after injury. I'd also heard plenty of good things sporting-wise about Augsburg while I was playing in Germany, but I never really followed what was going on. I started to pay attention for the first time when they won promotion to the Bundesliga.

bundesliga.com: Can you move about the place without being bothered?

Altintop: The people are really pleasant, I can move about as I please. It's a great city for families with kids, like mine. I'm really happy.

bundesliga.com You're something of an old-timer and have been to plenty of training camps. Most players aren't keen on them. How are they for you?

Altintop: (laughs) I wouldn't say I was old… The point is: training camps are important and also good. When new players have just come in like Pierre [-Emile Höjbjerg] and Ji [Dong-Won], training camps are ideal when it comes to integrating into the team quickly - on a sporting and a personal level.

bundesliga.com: What's been Markus Weinzierl's emphasis here in Belek?

Altintop: We've worked on all areas, but with a particular emphasis on refining technical, tactical things. We've been really meticulous.

bundesliga.com: Nine wins, eight defeats. Augsburg are the only team in the Bundesliga not to have drawn a single game during the first half of the season. Are you an all-or-nothing team or is it just a coincidence?

Altintop: I think it's sheer coincidence. We've shown that we've still got a way to go, especially when we lost to Wolfsburg and Schalke away. We were the better side and deserved at least a point, if not all three.

bundesliga.com: Relegation's no longer an issue for Augsburg…

Altintop: Not according to the standings, but it's all pretty tight in terms of points.

bundesliga.com: Augsburg are sixth in the table. Is Europe a topic in the dressing room?

Altintop: Just as it was before, securing our place in the Bundesliga as quickly as possible is still our goal. After that we'll see if we're going to set ourselves new objectives.

bundesliga.com: You said yourself you're not old yet. Still, have you given much thought to life after football?

Altintop: I've already spoken about it here and there with my wife, sure. A couple of years ago I said that I wouldn't want to work in football. That's still how I see it now, but we'll have to see which direction I take.

bundesliga.com You've made more appearances (287) and scored more goals (59) than any other Turkish player in the Bundesliga. What does that mean to you?

Altintop: I feel proud and fortunate - not as a Turk, but because I've succeeded in playing at this level and kept pace with one of the strongest leagues in the world for such a long time. I'm sure I'll be able to keep going if I keep working like this.

Halil Altintop was taking to Jürgen Blöhs