The experience taught Fabio Borini to hatch a plan in case the ground trembled under his feet. Again.
“Pack an emergency bag with everything you need,” explains the striker. Keep it near the door at night so you don’t have to think when you go out. Do not close the door.
It was a strategy Borini used in Italy, where tremors once left his family sleeping in the car for a week, “if not more.”
“My wife was a bit shocked,” he explains.
So he taught her about the bag and the lock. “He is traumatic,” continues Borini. ‘You just need to be prepared… there’s nothing else you can do.’
Fabio Borini and his family were fortunately not affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria
Borini, who now plays for Fatih Karagumruk, returns to Super Lig action this weekend
Borini enjoyed spells at both Chelsea and Liverpool before moving on to Sunderland, Milan, Hellas Verona and now Karagumruk.
Fortunately, Borini and his family did not feel or hear a thing last month as buildings began to crumble and devastating earthquakes ripped through parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria.
Twelve hours from his home in Istanbul, the body count began a grim ascent. It now stands at over 50,000. “We found out in the morning, like everyone else,” says Borini, the former Chelsea, Liverpool, Sunderland and Swansea striker who now plays under Andrea Pirlo at Fatih Karagumruk.
sports mail he met Borini on February 7, when snow sabotaged training and lunch was served to the sound of howling winds off the Black Sea. It was the day after the tragedy.
This weekend, Karagumruk returns to Super Lig action after almost a month, during which football became a vital vehicle in the race to deliver aid.
Turkey’s top flight will be missing two teams after Gaziantep and Hatayspor, both based near the epicenter, withdrew from the league. Hatayspor’s stadium has been turned into a homeless camp; their sporting director Taner Savut and winger Christian Atsu were among those lost; his manager, Volkan Demirel, coached Fatih Karagumruk last season.
“Most of the staff, we know them,” says Borini. Fortunately, two fitness trainers, who went missing briefly, were found alive.
In Turkey, the return of football has sparked expressions of both grief and anger.
There have been tributes to the dead and displaced. At Fenerbahce, fans brought scarves and toys, destined for those in need during this cold winter. But fans also turned against the government for the relief effort and the system that allowed so many buildings to collapse.
Borini says adapting to what’s available to him has taught him not to whine, which he did at first.
Former Newcastle and Chelsea player Christian Atsu, who played for Hatayspor, was tragically killed in the earthquake
One month after the earthquake that shook Turkey and northern Syria, the death toll exceeds 50,000
Pirlo and his players did their bit, loading trucks with help. This weekend he returns to the day against Sivasspor.
Borini is one of several Italian players and coaches at Fatih Karagumruk. Not that you know. Here, the 31-year-old is considered more English, and rightly so.
Borini’s wife Erin is from Liverpool; she speaks with a northern accent. The family still has a house on the outskirts of Manchester and Borini identifies more with northerners than Italians. English is indeed his first language, certainly the language his mind revolves around.
“We have a little daughter, I should speak to her more in Italian,” he admits. But? “TV is in English, my phone settings are in English, everything is in English.”
Even the food. Borini’s wife tends to order food from the British Corner Shop, an international delivery service for expats.
“She just placed an order,” laughs Borini. ‘Heinz soup, always baked beans, bacon… scones.’
He is one of several Italian players and coaches in Fatih Karagumruk who play under Andrea Pirlo.
Borini landed in Turkey in January 2021, joining a team without a permanent stadium or training base
They eat sausages for breakfast, their nanny, also English, had a recent craving for pork. Not easily found in a majority Muslim country. But no further than this lot.
The 31-year-old first moved to England as a teenager, joining Chelsea’s youth teams in 2007.
“My development there was key to my career because I learned the job, rather than playing football,” says Borini.
He collected the FA Cup and Premier League winners’ medals at Stamford Bridge. Then came seasons at Swansea, Liverpool, Sunderland. It was on Merseyside that Borini met his wife but it was on Wearside that happier memories were made on the pitch. “They live for soccer,” says Borini.
The forward landed in Turkey in January 2021, joining a team without a permanent stadium or training base. In a country where normal rules do not apply.
“It has taught me to adapt to what you have,” says Borini. “Don’t complain about what you could have and what you don’t have, which I was doing the first few months.”
He explains: ‘Don’t you have a training camp? Ok, in my free time, twice a week I go to the park to do my extra training… if you need to recover, you go to a hotel or a swimming pool.’
Borini has 13 league goals this season, behind only Fenerbahce’s Enner Valencia.
“It probably took me longer than I expected to adjust because culturally it’s so different,” he explains. Here everything is a little loose. Borini laughs.
Pirlo has made some changes since taking over last summer: “He brought structure to the way we train and work… in terms of discipline.” However, there is a lot that a manager can do.
“Culturally, the priorities are different,” adds Borini. “For us Italians it is very important how you eat and rest, here not so much”. The priorities in Turkey?
Borini has scored 13 league goals this season, behind only Fenerbahce’s Enner Valencia
“It’s how little you do, sometimes,” laughs Borini, adding that pressing strategy, for example, can be left up to the players.
The 31-year-old is out of contract in the summer. He would enjoy another chance in England. For now, he is part of Pirlo’s Italian work.
“Most of the coaches who were footballers in the past compare their football with that of today, which is not the same. He doesn’t do that,” says Borini. Pirlo has adapted to the unique challenges of Karagumruk and, before the tragedy, had begun to make his mark.
“He just threw the players out,” Borini says bluntly. “He is the type of coach who cannot ask for the ball (more). But he will make the decision that requires personality.
This weekend, Pirlo must lead his team back to normal, in circumstances that no player or coach can really prepare for.