(phone rings) Maybe it’s a transfer. So Erkut, how did your idea for the book come about? I would say I was always an advocator for education. During my own experience in the past – on my path to become an agent, I realised there was really nothing outside in the world to see how you can become an agent. ’Is there any guide outside?’ There was really nothing. During the last few years it developed more and more Then I came together with my partners Jack and Charlie, Whilst I was also teaching at universities as a guest lecturer at UCFB and FBA. I thought it might be a good idea to start something in this business, to bring something out which could help other upcoming, young aspiring agents to have a guide in their hand to see how they can get into the business. That’s actually how it developed. While I was studying, I had to get scholarships from the government because I couldn’t afford studying. The money of my parents wasn’t enough to have all the kits for studying so I had to work. I worked for H&M. I was giving out flyers, like on Oxford Street (in London) but in Germany. At the weekends – I was cleaning factories on Saturdays with friends. I was working as a waiter for four years, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So I did a lot of jobs to really… I worked hard but the main thing was I always believed in myself. I never listened to someone else’s opinion, saying ‘oh it’s too difficult, you can’t make it’ That was negative influence, negative people that I never surrounded around me. Always people with positive influence, they have dreams, they have visions’ so surround yourself around them. That was always my goal and always the way I was. My father was someone who could only go to primary school. My grandfather couldn’t afford to send him to the next city in Turkey to attend high school and college. The money wasn’t enough so he had to work as a farmer. He had it always within himself that ‘I couldn’t go because of money but my kids, I will support as much as I can.’ He was always a very hardworking guy and my mother too. My father was working in a factory in Germany, my mother was going cleaning. So they were really loyal, honest people and they always wanted to give the best for their kids. My father always said ‘I don’t want to leave anything back in this life, just educated kids’ That’s what he always gave to me, my sister, my brother. He always wanted us to become something in life. I think they are very proud right now. They have two kids who are lawyers. Personally I want more educated people in the business. I want more transparency in the business. I want more clubs working with the right agents. I would say yes, education for agents and an exam for agents. It changed in the last couple of years. There is no exam actually, to become a football agent. Tomorrow, anyone can start working as an agent. There is no background, no education or knowledge and that’s the danger for that business as well. That was a very interesting experience for me and for my client. We were leaving home, going to a restaurant I think. The paparazzi were following us so we know that happens everywhere in the world. But This was very strange. We realised we should maybe go back home. It was after a bad game. While we were driving he [the paparazzi] got out of his car and stood in front of [our] car so we literally couldn’t drive. I just said to my client ‘drive very slowly’ so we can go around or something. He put his arm towards the wing mirror and pushed it like this and acted like we drove into him, then he was screaming you injured me. He called the ambulance and everything, it was like a disaster, he just wanted to make news. You have that everywhere in the world but… I think England is a little bit different than everywhere else with paparazzi. I have the feeling. It’s very important. That’s why I think some agents differ from each other. There are agents who just do deals and go and there are agents who look after their clients with everything. That’s what label these categories of agents. Either your just a deal-broker maybe. You just broke a deal and you leave the player on the side, you don’t care. When there’s a renewal, you come back. Or when there’s an opportunity for a transfer, you come back. Or you really do what we do. That’s why we don’t have a lot of clients, we have less clients and we work directly with the families. That’s why we call ourselves Family and Football, so every family member is involved. If one is the brother, one is the father and one is the uncle… We work directly with the family members and we have very few players and they’re all quality players. That’s why we can give them a really good service with everything. I don’t believe in an agency with 100 players. How can you give them the services? It’s impossible, it’s just a factory. You have to imagine, the family is looking after the boy their whole life. From the birth, he’s six, seven years old – bringing them to the training ground every day, playing football everyday until he becomes 17, 18. Suddenly from the left-hand side an agent comes in and says ‘I do the deal’, takes 100% of the commission and the family is still stuck on the player. They have to ask their son for money. I think that’s…I mean, I don’t think that’s really fair, in my opinion and I think some family members realise that. That’s why we have a lot of family members today acting as agents. I think for the young player, I say play football. Don’t look for an agent. Just play football. Enjoy playing football and stick on education. You never know what will happen tomorrow. If you have a bad injury, it’s gone. Football is not everything in life but he should stick on playing great football every weekend. They shouldn’t be thinking when they’re 15, 16 ‘who should be my agent? The other agent, that one. The time for an agent will come or a lawyer, when the time is right but that’s not when they’re 14,15. That’s just slavery. Social media is going to be more important every day. It’s growing. It’s becoming a business for the player. If you have good control, a good managed social media, it’s another income stream for the player and in future it will be even bigger. On one side the player can connect himself with players worldwide. It’s a great opportunity. On the other side, he can give something not just about his sporting life but his personal life. For sponsorships, it’s a great opportunity to approach players because they know exactly what kind of fans they have, where the fans are coming from. You can now see everything, like which fans in which country, which language they are speaking. For sponsors it’s very interesting and partners to work with players who have a good social media reach. Also a good interactive… Not just about the reach but if the site, the page is also active, where fans are really discussing and talking a lot. We started quite early with social media. That’s why Mesut’s social media – I think it’s number one in England right now isn’t it, from the followers? We started really early when other people were saying ‘why do you pay an agency for looking after the social media?’ I said ‘that’s the future because we believe in a certain time we will get a lot of money back. Networking is probably the most important thing in our business. To create a network, literally build up that network, to maintain it and at the right time to really use this network. It’s a process in which you have to go from step one to step five. I tell this a lot to the younger students or interns. I tell them really start to create your network. Meet people for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and really find the right ones. There are good agents out there. There are good people working for clubs, a lot. You have to find the right ones. If you’re on your way to becoming an agent, let’s say you finish university and then your getting into the business. Still do a masters besides that in sports management or in sports law, or an MBA, do something or learn a language, which is key as well in our business. If you just know English, it’s good. If you know Spanish on top, it’s better. If you know German and another language on top, it’s much better. So it opens you more doors. That’s why education is so important. If you know more languages, if you have more abilities, if you’re at the same time a lawyer, you’ll have a background for contracts. It gives you much more bigger opportunity into the business. Never think about doing something dodgy. Once you’re in once you can never get out of that. That’s the most important thing. If you’re thinking about giving kickbacks to coaches, to people who are working in the club, then you’re done. Then it’s a short term investment. You do a couple and they will use it against you. We saw it in England didn’t we? It cam out that so many people are involved in these things. The media are always showing bad agents. They are saying ‘agents are bad, the reputations of agents is so bad’ The agents are not the bad ones. There are bad agents and good agents like any other profession, good lawyers and bad. But the bad agents remain because of the bad people in the clubs. If the people working in the clubs – the sporting directors, the board members, the decision takers, the managers, If they want to work with these people then they wouldn’t be in the business, but they like these people so they can do the dodgy things. That’s why we will always have always these bad agents running around because they’re the good ones for the bad guys inside the clubs, they can do their dodgy deals, otherwise we wouldn’t have them. Definitely. I think that’s what I realised in the last 10 years since [being] in the business. I’ve realised how difficult it is to go into a certain football club because someone is standing in front of the door and that’s a guy who works for someone inside the club. I realised more and more it’s not about the agents, it’s about the guys inside the clubs who allows these agents to get in and out as they’re running a club. The problem is not the agents themselves. You can regulate, you can do anything. There will be bad agents who are not good for their clients, for the players. They do bad contracts, they don’t do good negotiations, whatever, but I mean really dodgy stuff. This bad stuff, they’re coming from the clubs they’re not coming from the agents. Because the clubs shouldn’t just allow it and put these things in. That’s why I want educated people thinking long term. Don’t do it. Wait long term then the others will get out. Even people inside the clubs will change, the guys will change in the next 5, 10 years so more educated people who really want to do a good job with good people. Look, I’m living once in my life and I want to work with good people and want to be surrounded by good people. I don’t want to share my time with people sitting at a table talking about how much I can give them under the table. If it’s about that then it’s not a business anymore for me, then it’s just doing a bad thing and this is not what I got from my family or what I want to give to my students. This is short term thinking, not good thinking and it does not help the business. That’s why I think the most important thing that the mindset of the upcoming agents is really don’t allow someone in the club to use you for their dodgy things. Say no and wait. Just say no and wait. The right opportunity and business will come in time.