Gundogan talks family ties and social responsibility in tough times

3 Mar 2021

Ilkay Gundogan's pride in his Turkish roots and German nationality shines through in the latest instalment of the FIFA PlayOn Podcast, which has a distinctly international flavour.

The Manchester City star is joined in this week’s episode by American rapper French Montana, who also brings a global perspective on music and the beautiful game, with the latter expressing his love of Africa, having emigrated to the USA from Morocco at the age of 13.

The midfielder speaks from the heart about the importance of his family, especially in times of physical separation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and reflects on his upbringing in Germany and his trips to see his grandparents in Turkey as a child.

Gundogan tells the podcast’s host, Universal Music Group’s global chart-topping artist Liam Payne, and his co-host, the sports broadcaster Jaydee Dyer: “Family means everything to me. It’s how I was raised, as I have a Turkish background and went there every summer to see my grandparents.”

“It’s such a tight bond and is so important. That’s why the coronavirus situation right now is probably one of the most difficult times of my life.”

Turkish music that allows him to “think of home” forms part of Gundogan's selection of six tracks to tell the story of his life, but the 30-year-old, who grew up in Gelsenkirchen, is keen to engage with local communities wherever he is based.

“I feel like I have a responsibility to society, whether it is in Germany, Turkey or even here in Manchester,” says Gundogan, who recently launched a campaign to boost local businesses that are struggling due to the pandemic in his adopted home city.

“I try to identify with the people who are struggling and support them,” he adds.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Ilkay Guendogan of Manchester City celebrates after scoring their team's firs goal  during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at The Hawthorns on January 26, 2021 in West Bromwich, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Nick Potts - Pool/Getty Images)

Gundogan also reveals:

  • A childhood memory of a friendly kickabout with Mesut Ozil

  • What it was like to play in front of 80,000 “crazy” fans every week at Borussia Dortmund

  • How the disappointment of Germany’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ campaign has galvanised the squad ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™

  • How he has stayed mentally strong despite missing as much as two and a half years of his career due to injury

  • How the motivational attributes of Jurgen Klopp compare to playing under the tactical genius of Pep Guardiola