Turkish international Hamit Altintop managed every footballer's dream on 3 September 2010 on the first matchday of qualifying for the UEFA EURO 2012 in Kazakhstan. When Emre Belozoglu's corner came across, the midfielder met the ball on the volley just outside the area and fired it into to the top right-hand corner.
His incredible goal helped Turkey on their way to a 3-0 win and also won Altintop the FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year, as chosen by FIFA.com users. The Bayern Munich star received his award at the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2010 Gala at the Kongresshaus in Zurich and then gave FIFA.com an exclusive interview.
What does this prize mean to you?
I would like to thank everyone. It’s not that bad to write a bit of history like this. I am very happy about this award and later on I will have a glass and say cheers to a few of the players here.
Was that the best goal that you have scored in your career to date?
It might not have been the most important but it was certainly the most spectacular.
Can you describe the goal again in your own words?
It was our first match in EURO qualifying. We were very well prepared as a team, despite the fact that we were playing on artificial turf, which we were not used to. We were determined to get off to a good start in qualifying and it was a real relief when I scored our second goal. Emre sent over a really good corner, and I decided straight away to have a go. In situations like these you shouldn't really weigh up the pros and cons – you should just try your luck. Having said that, the goal came about thanks to a good build-up beforehand.
You're famous for having a good shot on you and have already scored some spectacular goals from distance. Is it something you practise in training or is it simply a talent you were born with?
My brother and I used to play football together, just the two of us, which meant that we used to juggle the ball a lot and play one-on-one, and we were always trying to score in the other one's goal. I always liked the way Ronald Koeman and Ingo Anderbrugge used to shoot – they were the guys I tried to emulate as a kid. I'm obviously very thankful that I've got this skill for long-distance shots. I recently managed another one at Bayern's training camp in Qatar, so hopefully there are plenty more to come.
Turkey have dropped valuable points in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2012 with defeats to Germany and Azerbaijan. How do you rate your chances of qualifying for the 2012 tournament?
We got off to a good start and won our first two matches, then we unfortunately lost the next two. Anyone can lose in Germany, but we really shouldn't have lost in Azerbaijan. That was obviously quite a setback. We've still got six matches to play though, and we're looking at getting at least enough points to finish second in the group and qualify for the play-offs. Our coach Guus Hiddink has now got the chance to size things up. Even someone as experienced as he is needs time to get to know a team. We had some ups and downs in the first four matches, and the coach knows how to take the positives out of that and make sure that we are prepared in the right way for the rest of the campaign.
The second half of the Bundesliga season will be getting under way next week and Bayern Munich are currently 14 points adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund. What are you expecting from the rest of the season?
Our intention is to get off to a good start and not be concerned with how anyone else is doing. Dortmund have to play us in Munich at the end of February, and if they drop a point or two on the way and then lose to us, then it'll be all to play for. The most important thing though is for us to get off to a good start and pick up some points, then we'll see how strong Dortmund are looking. There's still a glimmer of hope for us winning the league title.
In the UEFA Champions League, you have a quarter-final tie against Inter Milan to look forward to in what is a remake of last year's final which of course you lost. You must be out for revenge...
I don't see it in terms of revenge. That would only be the case if we played each other in the final again. We have to be honest and admit that Inter Milan deserved to win the final and that their experience was certainly a key factor. It'll be an interesting match. When you play the top teams in Europe like Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester United, Chelsea or Inter, it's always exciting regardless of whether it's in the group or the knock-out stages. I'm obviously confident that we'll make it through this time around though.