Remembering Mete Adanir, a Turkish Cypriot icon
From Oz Orman….
A once dilapidated football pitch in Karaoğlanoğlu, which has since been refurbished, once bared the name of a Turkish Cypriot footballer. It is 33 years since Mete Adanir lost his life in a coach accident in the province of Havza in northern Turkey.
Adanir who was born in Limassol and had moved to the north in 1974 was playing for Samsunspor in Turkey at the time (1989). The 27 year old tragically died alongside some of his teammates, manager and the coach driver that fateful January morning. Samsunspor had been on their way to play a top-flight match against Malatyaspor. Every 20th January, the men who lost their lives are remembered in the city on the shores of the Black Sea.00
Although, there are more Turkish Cypriot footballers making inroads these days, especially in the U.K. Mete Adanir was a bit of a pioneer. He actually secured a trial at then Second Division, Leyton Orient football club. Adanir had moved to London to carry on his education in the late 70’s and had impressed the East London side during a trial. He played for the youth and reserve teams in a few games and was close to signing a professional contract. Unfortunately, the O’s couldn’t secure international clearance from the Cypriot FA at the time. Remember this was post-1974 and Adanir was no doubt persona non grata in the eyes of the football governing body in the south.
I contacted officials at Leyton Orient, including the club historian about Mete’s appearances for the club. Unfortunately, as he hadn’t made any first-team appearances, records of Adanir playing for Leyton Orient in any capacity have been difficult to ascertain. The manager at the time who wanted to sign Mete has since passed away and the only way of finding out about his time in East London is identifying old programmes or tracking down teammates who might remember him. This is easier said than done. Also, Mete’s brother, Eralp who works for BRT has continued researching this part of his older brother’s life and is hopeful that someone can piece together Mete’s time at Leyton Orient. Any assistance anyone can give would be greatly appreciated by the Adanir family.
In 2016, a statue of Mete Adanir was erected in Kyrenia’s, 20th July stadium and renamed after the Turkish Cypriot footballer. Mete had played at the ground in his younger days for the local side, Doğan Türk Birliği SK. Incidentally, on the plaque underneath the statue. It states that Mete played for the O’s, three times. However, for the eagle eyed. The name Leyton Orient is actually spelt incorrectly on the engraving.
Eralp Adanir, also worked on a BRT programme about his brother’s life and experiences. It is available on YouTube and is an interesting watch.
The original stadium in Karaoğlanoğlu has since gone through a transformation, from the dusty bowl that it was. In 2016, then prime-minister, Huseyin Ozgurgün stated:
“This place bears the name of Mete Adanır. He means a lot to me. He’s our friend where we play football together, sweat on the field. He’s not with us today. It’s important that it fits his name. It is also emotional for me to keep his name alive here.”
The football ground during its construction had an astroturf pitch alongside new floodlighting which allows this facility to be used all year round. Maybe, the next Mete Adanir will be discovered here. The stadium in Karaoğlanoğlu has since been renamed the Orhan Dural Stadium.
Mete Adanir is buried in Nicosia Cemetery and his legacy continues. It is important we don’t forget him. Since Mete’s debut for the club back in the late 70’s, Leyton Orient has since been represented by other Cypriot footballers both Turkish and Greek. The current first team squad contains three players with Cypriot roots.
A Mete Adanir foundation has been mooted also.
A video about Mete, his statue and ex Orient legend, Laurie Cunningham is available to watch on the following link.
1 thought on “Remembering Mete Adanir, a Turkish Cypriot icon”
This is such a beautiful and emotional article. It is also beautifully written and respectful to all those concerned. I had a connection with Leyton Orient myself as a youth hoping to get signed. Sadly, I wasn’t good enough unlike Mete who, due to political reasons wasn’t able to play football for the O’s. I guess, indirectly and ironically he too was a victim of the 74 conflict because had he signed for Orient, he’d not have been on that team bus in Turkey that fateful day. I was deeply moved by the article and the video that accompanied it. We ought to celebrate our achievements as a nation but we must also pay our respects to those who went before us in their efforts to break free of the restraints that still hold us back today. Cypriot Turks have a right to be recognised and a right to live …..just like Mete should have been able to. Thank you Ertanch for this article.
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