Greek Cypriot football player Stelios Kittos who made a dramatic decision about his career almost two years ago and transferred to a Turkish Cypriot football club Degirmenlik, explained his experiences in this process.
Throughout his career, Kittos has played for various clubs in the south. After playing for Larnaca-based refugee team Anorthosis, Kittos transferred to Degirmenlik, a Turkish Cypriot football club which now plays in the first division in the north. The decision was met with heavy criticism at first in that period. Kittos now plays for Bostancı Bagcıl, another team in North Cyprus.
Giving an exclusive interview to “In- Cyprus” web site in the South, the 37-year-old midfielder said, “After an injury, I had stopped playing in the first division in the south and began playing in the second division until I could get back on my feet and rise up again. At the time I was in my thirties. I began knocking on doors and coaches would ask my age. When I told them I was 33, they wouldn’t bring me in. I would insist that they see me play before they took a decision, but they preferred to put a younger player in my place. That’s what made me go and play in the north.”
Stating that Greek Cypriot fans and managers approached the situation from a political aspect and they saw him as a traitor, Kittos said that he never thought it as treachery. Kittos stated that people’s attitudes against him had changed in two years. People who called him a “traitor” when he transferred to a football club in the north now congratulate him.
Kittos said, “In the beginning I had a lot of issues, they called me ‘pro-Turkish,’ but now people congratulate me because this shouldn’t be politicised.” “I see that attitudes have changed in the past two years, people’s stance changed very quickly,” he added.
Indicating that the approach shown to him in the north by Turkish Cypriots is very good, the experienced player said, “They see me as a footballer. They respect and appreciate me and I can see that. I have started to learn Turkish. I can easily understand the basic things. I’ve created lots of friendships there and I can say that they are true friendships. My teammates are not two-faced.”
Kittos also added that he is very happy for being and playing football in North Cyprus.