A former Germany youth international was killed in the Syrian civil war last month, it has emerged.
German media reported that Burak Karan, 26, was killed in action on Oct. 11, and the nation's intelligence agencies confirmed the news of his death on Monday.
Karan was on the books at Alemannia Aachen and made seven appearances for the Germany under-16 and under-17 teams alongside the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sami Khedira and Dennis Aogo, but he decided to walk away from the game at the age of 20.
He reportedly became an Islamist and was said to have been fighting for rebels against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s Ba'ath party when he was killed. However, his brother denied he had become a radical fighter and said he was only looking to supervise the distribution of relief supplies near the Turkish border.
“If he armed himself, it was only to defend himself,” he told Bild.
A video showing Karan with a machine gun was uploaded to the internet several days after his death, but his brother added: “That was uploaded after his death. Someone wants to use him.”
Bild reports that he died in an air strike last month, while the Focus newspaper believes he was shot in combat close to the Turkish border. The German ministry of the interior told the German news wire dpa that investigations were still ongoing.
Schalke midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who now plays for Ghana at international level, offered his condolences via Twitter.
He wrote: “R.I.P. my brother Burak K.!! I will never forget our time together. You were a real friend #brokenheart #forever”
When his support for Karan was questioned, he tweeted: “Burak was a close friend of mine during my youth days. Whatever happened afterwards, I can’t influence #forthehaters”