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[FM21] Whole Yellow Sun

After suffering an attempt against his life where he though he would be safe, Deniz Naki got no place to go. In this story, he will try to bounce back, and, as a manager, realize the potential he never did as a player.
Started on 14 November 2020 by Tango
Latest Reply on 1 March 2021 by TheLFCFan
Tango's avatar Group Tango
3 yearsEdited

0-1. Driveaway

Based on real events

Manifestant waving the Kurdish flag. Source

The main problem with driving and talking on the telephone is that it drives your attention away from your surroundings. People still do it anyway, maybe for habit, or maybe because they do not want to stop to take the call.

Deniz was driving at the A4 Autobahn when Zoran called. Deniz took the call and kept driving.

- Hey man where are you? - Zoran nor even said hello. He asked for Deniz upfront.
- Hi, cousin. I’m back in Düren. I'm sorry I left without telling anyone. I couldn’t.
- Man, what do you mean you couldn’t? We’re here, for whatever it takes, man.
- I know you are there for me, I know. But the government blocked my number. It didn’t work until I left Turkey.
- So you just left?
- Again, I’m so sorry for not having a proper good-bye. I just had to leave. It was not safe to stay - Deniz tried to wrap up the call...
- And your career, what about your career? - … but Zoran insisted.
- Oh, you didn’t know?
- No, man, I don’t know anything anymore.
- The Turkish federation banned me from playing, dude. And now that dickhead president of theirs will say they won’t arrest me, but they put me on probation for five years. I never knew they thought I was that powerful.
- So you won’t come back to Kurdistan ever again.
- “Ever again” is a strong thing to say, cousin. Kurdistan will be independent one day. Then I’ll come back. Until then, it’s safer for me here.

At the moment, Deniz was being overtaken by another car. He looked to the car passing him by for a moment and he could see the face of the man in the passenger seat of the overtaking car during a split second. The man looked back at him and smiled. Then, something clicked in Deniz’s mind. He slammed the brakes and ducked.

The passenger drew a pistol and fired three times against Deniz, who was not hit thanks to the quick reaction at the brakes. The other driver stepped on the brakes too and tried to reverse to have a clear face-to-face view. Deniz stepped at the gas pedal as hard as he could and drove away. The hitman attempted to shoot him another three times but managed to only shatter his back glass.




- I’m here! Shit! I’ll call you back!

Deniz buried his right foot on the throttle pedal for some kilometres and drove away through a random exit until the car started malfunctioning. He then pulled up at the side of the road and called the police.

After calling the cops, the rush of adrenaline wore off and he started to realize what was happening. After a tumultuous football career, at least he got to spend the rest of his years living in Kurdistan, where he could be surrounded by his family and his people. When he got too involved in the independence of Kurdistan, however, things started to spiral downwards. First, he got banned from playing professional football. Then, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for “terrorist propaganda”, a sentence converted into 5-year probation.

Fanart in tribute to Deniz Naki. Source

It was time, then, to come back to Germany, where Deniz Naki was born. He had got the love of the fans in Hamburg when he played for St. Pauli. The leftist fans loved this Kurdish kid that scored goals and provoked right-wing rivals, and who risked his life to defend the self-determination of his people. It was time to come back to Germany, to get a fresh start. To stop being a target and move on with his life in a safe place where he had support.

But boy, he was wrong. He always knew something like that could happen, but never in Germany. Yet, he was there, parked by a random road with six bullets somewhere inside his car. He allowed himself to cry. Not only about the attacks, the intolerance, but also for the future. What to do next? How to bounce back from this? If not in Germany, where on Earth would he be truly safe?
If there was to be one club who welcomes a kid with such a terrifying background, it would be St. Pauli. Horrific that someone like that must be treated with such disdain and hatred as just seen. A great start to this story.
This sounds like it will be a great read, look forward to reading more.
It needs a update, wrong version :(
Quite the dramatic start to this story. Welcome back! I too hope that, one day, Kurdistan can claim its independence.
A great start. Looking forward to this!

0-2. Phone from a friend

Without much to do, Deniz tried everything. He tried to make his voice heard at the press, but that did not solve anything. A couple of articles here and there, all of them using the word “alleged” a lot. He was already losing hope when he got a phone call.

- Hi there! Did I reach Deniz Naki?
- You did. What do you want?
- Oh, finally! My name is Alan Dogan, chairman of Dalkurd FF, and I got your phone number from a friend. I know what you have been going through and I really admire your struggle. Would you like to come by and talk more about the future of your career?
- Are you sure of that? I’ve been 2 years without playing, I’m definitely not in good shape.
- I know we don’t know each other, Deniz, but I want to one day consider you a friend. And a friend in need is a friend indeed. Besides, I was thinking that you could maybe be a coach. You know, attend some classes, prepare yourself and take-off a new career from here. I’d be proud! You’re a smart guy, I think you’ll do really well. More than that, we have a community here, thousands of people from the Kurdish diaspora. You’ll feel at home.
- It sounds like the best thing I could do right now! And with all honesty, the only one. All right. Where do we meet?
- I can send you a flight ticket to Uppsala. Which airport is best for you?
- Düsseldorf.
- All right then, be in Düsseldorf tomorrow at 10 am.
- Okay… I’ll rush things then. See you.
- I’ll send someone to pick you up at the airport when you arrive. See you!

Of course, Deniz knew about the existence of Dalkurd Fotbollförening, but he never fully followed the club, nor sought to find streaming services offering the Swedish league. By doing some research online, he managed to discover one thing or the other about the club. First, that they in 2018 had their Cinderella moment by playing in Allsvenskan, the top tier, but were relegated at the first season; and that this success was far away from being repeated in 2019 when they finished 8th in the Superettan.

The club is quite new, being founded in 2004 by the Kurdish diaspora in Sweden, and has climbed level by level since the fourth tier in 2009 until being promoted to the top flight in 2017. A few years later, however, it seems that the club is struggling a little, so Deniz does not know exactly what will be in front of him when he arrives in Uppsala.


@Jack a save with St. Pauli would be quite nice, maybe next time

@Imagine thank you, hope this story delivers

@stefanhee sorry didn't catch what you meant

@ScottT one day my friend, one day!

@TheLFCFan thank you!
Ahh this could be very interesting! I do quite like following saves in Sweden and Dalkurd are certainly an interesting side given their fairly recent founding.

1. A longer wait

The Dalkurd that Deniz Naki found in 2020 was a very different team than the one that got promoted in 2017. The squad was deficitary, the bank account balance was merely above sea level and the predictions were the worst possible. After achieving 8th place at the Superettan in 2019, this time it was consensual among pundits: Dalkurd will be relegated again.

However, not everything was a tragedy. At least, not for Deniz. The squad indeed lacks in quality and depth, but it is full of young and versatile players. The youth allows the manager to at least expect players to improve during the season, while the versatility allows the manager to explore variations of tactics in order to adapt according to the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses. Exploring the opposition’s weaknesses will be Deniz’s motto for 2020, because, let’s be honest, if you don’t have any weaknesses, you are not playing in Sweden’s second tier.

Considering manpower, some talents jumped to Deniz’s eyes, even though not exactly the best players of the division: in the attack, the responsibility of bringing in goals was laid on the Kosovar Arian Kabashi, loaned from Elfsborg. The 23 years-old can play as a striker or a left-winger. The task of being creative and making the machinery work was given to Hampus Finndell, the 20 years-old midfielder loaned from Djurgårdens. But enough with loanees.

The aforementioned versatility is a quality of the players that are already in the house. We have the talented 20 yo Filip Sjöberg, who can play as a right midfielder and winger, the Bosnian 25 yo Irfan Jašarević, who can be a centre back, a left-back, or a defensive mid. He and the 27 yo John Stenberg can play the same roles. To wrap things up, the 26 yo Malkolm Moënza can be both a left-back and a left midfielder.

Given these qualities, Deniz can easily shift the formation from a 4-5-1, with one defensive mid and two wingers, to a 3-4-3, with two wing midfielders. In the first configuration, Jašarević can be a half-back, allowing the team to unburden the midfield without giving the defenders the responsibility to work too much with the ball. By moving Jašarević back to the defensive line, advancing Moënza and bringing Sjöberg back, we can have a 3-4-3, useful against teams that play with two unprotected centre backs.

When it was all set and Deniz was eager to start the new job, the pandemic struck. Months after the pandemic started we know that it did not affect Sweden the way it did to other countries, but it was enough to delay the start of the season in a couple of months. So instead of kicking the season off in April, it started in June. This scenario melted the rest of Dalkurd’s economies, so Deniz would have to work on an even lower budget.

Within this context, just one big signing was possible, and for the position the squad needed the most: a good solid goal-keeper. The two GKs in the squad were horrid, even for this level. Without many resources to scout, Deniz’s idea was to take all GKs offered by agents and offer them a trial. From the trialists, the winner was the 21 years-old Argentine Franco Carretero



@ScottT yeah, and Sweden is full of these community clubs. I think that only for Syrians there are 2 or 3
A tough challenge awaits, that is obvious!

2. We don’t have much, but we have enough

Even though the media predictions were dreadful for Dalkurd, Deniz never bothered to give them any importance. Truth being, in these lower levels, having an organized and flowing playing style with a solid defensive line is far much more important than the quality of the players themselves. The most important challenge would be convincing his players that they could do exactly that.

June 2020

Despite the winless first month, it was crucial not to be crushed. Here, pride and mind were more important than points. Deniz managed to convince the players that they could be a challenge to stronger squads, and that would come to bring huge dividends in the next month. We managed to fend off Östers IF, and marginally lost a game that could go either way against Halmstad, one of the best squads in the league.

July 2020

Much better. In July, the squad finally assimilated the tactics and our versatility came out as our biggest strength. It was easy to change tactics according to the necessity of the match; and the 3-4-3 formation came as alien to our rivals, who apparently never saw someone playing like that before. One other feature really enjoyable to watch from Naki’s Dalkurd was the display of Jašarević as a half-back. As teams in Superettan do not fancy too much high pressure - and the pandemic calendar pretty much deterred them from doing so - Jašarević easily managed to make the ball go around unmarked.

August 2020

In August the goalscoring galore ended, but we still managed to grab enough to get a good amount of wins. With the exception of the match against Umeå, when we should have gotten away with a comfortable away but the ball insisted not to cross the line, we managed to beat our rivals marginally.

Current Standings - 15 games into the season / 15 games to go

If Deniz seemed to be too optimistic before the year began, now it is justified. The lads have shown defensive prowess, and the daring playing style has paid off massively. Kabashi has been brilliant in front of goal, and the Nigerian striker Henry Offia has been a pleasant surprise so far, banging a hat-trick against Eskilstuna and scoring other goals here and there.

There is not much mystery about the next episode: the same games, but playing at home the ones we played away and vice-versa. Even though the press still does not think Dalkurd can do it, if the trail of good tactical displays can be kept, there is no reason why Dalkurd should not look forward to a promotion. Of course playing the Allsvenskan with such a limited squad will be an uphill climb, but that should not be a concern at the moment.


@ScottT tbh after years playing FM, lower league football becomes simple: everyone sucks, the one that sucks the least ends up champion
Outstanding form, nobody can argue against Naki's impact here. Even when you lost, it was straight back up again - great mentality that should serve you well this season.

3. The end of the ghost season

Have you ever felt the atmosphere of thousands of Kurds supporting a Swedish football club and pushing their players towards the win?

Deniz neither.

This pandemic hindered any opportunity for him to feel the warmth of his own people, of the people of the diaspora he is a part of. The joy of football is exactly to feel the community around you, the warmth of people, to share the thrill after every win and the sadness after every defeat. Without fans, football is just a sport, and quite a boring one.

And the surprising performance in the league came along with this uncanny feeling of positivity around the stadium and around the people that live the club. Everywhere in Uppsala where there was a Kurd, there was optimism. EXCEPT inside the gates of the Studenternas IP, the stadium of the university, used by all sports associations of the city.

The stadium felt like a ghost town; the season then felt like a ghost season. But enough of blabbering and whining, let’s go to what matters.

September 2020

Again, the first games of the second half of the season were sloppy, just like in the first half. After a good win against Östers IF, it felt like the fairy tale was over and our carriage became a pumpkin again. Halmstad ended up gathering all six points available against us, something you wouldn’t like to give to another title contender. At the end, a win against the last on the table bought us back some pride.

October 2020

There it is, finally, the Svenska Cupen. We visited and beat Tvååkers IF, a club from the third tier, and we are off to the group stage, to be played in January. In the league, three wins and a defeat, with the positive highlight being the spanking on the team once quoted to be champions by betting websites; on the other end, losing the derby against Brage meant that we lost all the bragging rights with our rivals.

November and December 2020

At the final stretch of the season, we started thinking about closing deals: first, for the promotion, then for the title. You can see the moments when we needed just a win to secure both promotion and title by the way our players reacted to it. Deniz had a hard time controlling the nerves of the young squad, and the promotion got postponed when Dalkurd lost to Västerås, after 90 minutes of smashing them without scoring. The promotion, however, came a round later.

Depending on other results, we could secure the title by taking our revenge against Umeå, but again a vacillating team failed to grab the win. And again, against Jönköpings Södra, the legs wobbled in front of goal. With one more opportunity to grab the trophy, the win finally came against Akropolis, when our goalscoring prowess returned in detriment to any form of defending.

Final Standings

And there it is, the title! Dalkurd is back to Allsvenskan after two years in Superettan! When the referee blew the final whistle in Uppsala, the final whistle of 2020, Deniz opened his arms and waited to feel the chill. That chill you are supposed to feel when you are champions.

But it never came.

Instead, the only chill Deniz felt was the chill of the freezing winter in Sweden, that was about to come. He looked around the stadium, only to see a void stadium staring back at him. Deniz then stuck his hands back on his pockets and went to his players. One day there will be a time when he will celebrate with thousands of people. Well, this day is not today. At least he’s got his lads.

Hope this vaccine will come soon.


@Jack great mentality during the season, but some worrying wobbles at the end, when we were about to close the deal
An excellent season for Dalkurd and Deniz who successfully installed a winning mentality into his players. Hopefully that mentality will continue over into the Allsvenskan and Dalkurd can do enough to, at the very least, avoid an instant return to the Superettan.

4. Grey suits and striped ties

After the surprising title of the Superettan, the reelection of Alan Dogan seemed to be a slam dunk. He had the initiative to call Deniz Naki, introduce him into the managerial world without any previous experience, and therefore he should be the one reaping the benefits from his courage, right?

Well, politics are quite more complicated than that.

Deniz’s struggle and the Kurdish community, in general, attracted the interest of the students of the University of Uppsala. Many scholars wanted to study the relationship between an immigrant community and their football club. You know scholars: they are curious. On a side note, the unexpected success in 2020, combined with the distinctiveness of Dalkurd, made the club a cultural icon for the students. And you know western students: they think they are smarter than everyone else.

It didn’t take long until a professor from Uppsala’s University Faculty of Law, Professor Rickard Edlund, came up with a plan of gathering local investors into putting money into the team. His plan was not exactly a complete takeover, rather than a “professionalization” of the club's management.

The plan envisaging a “more professional” management of the club was well seen by, well, many people. Of course, the ones more connected with the origins of the club found it absurd that someone not Kurdish would appoint himself as president of Dalkurd, and the majority of the Kurdish community in Uppsala didn’t approve this change, including Deniz.

The word “majority”, however, neglects around 40% of the community that do think that the club’s origin should be sacrificed to favour competitiveness. For Deniz, it sounded bizarre because no extra money would be injected into the club’s bank accounts, and the only difference would be that, instead of a community-driven club, Dalkurd would start to see a lot of Swedes in suits walking around.

In the end, the surprising title that was meant to be Deniz’s first step towards glory in Swedish football, became the start of his demise. Professor Rickard Edlund is the new chairman of Dalkurd FF, to the disappointment of the club’s manager, already beloved by the fans.


@ScottT now I'm not sure if my tactical shenanigans can save me hahaha

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