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Haji Wright booed by Antalyaspor fans following return to action


Haji Wright has been on the radar of several European clubs over the past season, and despite a new suitor reportedly entering the race for his services, Antalyaspor fans voiced their displeasure with the American’s exit from Sunday’s latest Super Lig match.

Wright was substituted off in the 81st minute of Antalayspor’s 0-0 draw with Istanbul Basaksehir, with fans booing the striker as he came off the field. The USMNT forward has led the Turkish club in scoring (15 goals in 2022-23) for the second-consecutive season, which has led to new European interest for his signature this summer.

Scottish Premiership club Rangers has reportedly made an offer to Antalyaspor for a summer transfer, which Antalyaspor has already declined. Club manager Nuri Sahin voiced his displeasure with Antalayspor’s fans for the negative treatment of Wright, admitting that the 25-year-old recently missed some time due to the birth of his first child.

“I am not a person who has understood whistling all my life,” Sahin said postmatch. “I have always stood against this, both during my football career and my coaching period. I was surprised, I was surprised because it is clear that Haji has given us so far, it is clear that he will give. His wife gave birth, the last 3-4 days have been very busy for him. He became a father, he has different feelings. I think we should do this to a person at this level and who has experienced something like this.

“There was applause afterwards, but football is not just football,” Sahin added. “We are human, we are all human. Believe me, I’m already doing what’s necessary inside. I do it in criticism, I also talk about what we should do better, but we are talking about a person. It’s the first time he’s become a father. We’re talking about a person who has that taste. He became a father abroad, not in his own country. Maybe his wife was alone in the hospital. There are a lot of things.”

Wright’s appearance on Sunday was his first since May 6 as he tries to get back to form in front of goal. The U.S. men’s national team forward scored twice against Istanbulspor on April 19, but has not scored in any of his last four appearances, causing Antalyaspor fans to become frustrated.

Antalyaspor has three matches remaining this season and is currently sitting 13th in the Super Lig table win 38 points. Sahin’s squad are safe from the relegation fight at the bottom of the table, but are also not in the race for European qualification either.

Wright’s future with Antalyaspor remains unknown following growing European interest elsewhere, and Sahin supports the player’s loyalty to the club after remaining in Turkey throughout the current season.

“..It is obvious that Haji is both a football player and a human being and what he has done for us,” Sahin said. “He could have easily gone to other teams at the beginning of the season, but he preferred us. Loyalty is very important, humanity is very important.”


    • Happens here too. A former travel player of mine was so excited about passing his courses so he could make some extra money helping ref this spring. 16 yr old kid. Was heckled at almost every game by parents to the point he quit. u12 and u14 rec. People need to get a grip.

    • sounds clever except if you know the wright story he bounced around US minor leagues and europe before he finally got his career rolling. people forget he’s 25 and been pro 8 years but took forever to get going with stints in NASL and germany (mostly B team work) before his dutch and turkish moves succeeded. scotland might work but he would need to be picky.

      to me there has to be something more complicated going on if fans boo you off the field just for a few weeks’ dry spell. fans don’t usually boo a player off the field for leading the team with 15 goals this season, a brace a month ago, but no goals in a handful of games. transfer rumors, someone in the media stoking anger, something more/other than just a statistical off period.

      • I think he recently requested a move after this season then apparently had a less than stellar match.

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