The previous season Besiktas had lost 4-0 to Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League. This time, we beat them 1-0 at home and won 3-1 against Stoke City to top our group and go through to the next stage.
It was around the same time that we lost our chairman – he went to work for the Turkish Football Federation – and the previous manager came out of jail. Of course, I said to him: “If you want, you take your place.”
But we were doing well – fighting for the title, through to the next stage of the Europa League and playing good football.
They knew the fans would not understand if they fired me. Especially because, in the next round of the Europa League, we were playing Braga. This team – my home city – is one I know very well.
So I stay because we play against Braga. This I know.
As another solution, they put the previous manager in as sporting director. So now I’m working with a sporting director who wants to be the manager; my assistants belong to him and I’m still learning the language, so I cannot always understand the things they are talking about.
It was a very hard environment to work in.
“My path was long. It had as many high points as low. But I’m proud of it, because I worked my way up from the bottom”
One day, I had a visit from a guy I’d never seen before. He told me he represented the board of the club and said I must play a certain player in the next game.
“Ah, but he has a disciplinary incident.”
“But you must play him. It’s the most important game of the season.”
“Okay. Fire me if you want, and you can stay with the team and pick the player. No problem.”
All of this was through a translator, because he didn’t speak any English.
One day, I will write a book about that year. There were many situations like this. But I stayed strong and took big risks. I told myself that, by the time I finished my work there, I would be a better manager. A better person.
After this kind of challenge, I would be ready for everything in football.
Like I said, when I accepted the challenge in Sheffield Wednesday, I felt like I was in paradise. Before my first press conference, the people said to me: “Carlos, be ready.”
I thought: “Come on, I have been in Turkey with 30 cameras, 50 journalists all the time with a gun trying to shoot me with very hard questions. And I survived that environment.”
My path was long. It had as many high points as low. But I’m proud of it, because I worked my way up from the bottom and faced many challenges along the way. It gave me a big background. Big experience.
It left me ready for anything.