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Mar, 12, 2013

Altintop: Emotion won't cloud return

Galatasaray midfielder Hamit Altintop insists he will be fully focused on the task in hand when he returns to former club Schalke for Tuesday's Champions League last-16 second leg.

• Yilmaz: Gala must rise to occasion
• Dunbar: Schalke's lesser lights

Altintop, 30, was born and raised in Gelsenkirchen and made his name at Schalke during a four-year spell before moving to Bayern Munich in 2007.

The Turkey international is back at the Veltins Arena on Tuesday night but while he admits that he still watches "a lot of Schalke games" and that it will be "something special" to return to his home city, Altintop is not expecting to be affected by the emotion of the occasion.

"All in all, I will approach the match professionally," Altintiop said. "I want to qualify for the quarters, that's what I am after."

Altintop has put his career back on track at Gala after a disastrous spell with Real Madrid saw him play just 12 games in his single season at the Bernabeu.

"Looking back at my year in Madrid, I realise it has given me a lot," Altintop told Frankfurter Allgeimne Zeitung. "It helped me to take a leading role here."

His move to Istanbul was in no small part thanks to former Schalke chairman and Gelsenkirchen mayor Gerd Rehberg - a friend of Gala president Ozhan Canaydın and the Altintop family, as well as the first foreigner to be given an honorary club membership by the Turkish giants - who made the initial contact with the midfielder.

The 77-year-old explained to Die Welt that he got in touch with the Altintop family, and talked to Hamit's uncle Fahrettin Dakin, nicknamed "Cash".

Rehberg said: "'Listen, Cash', I told him. 'I have done you a lot of favours. Now it's time for you to return one. Please make sure that Hamit joins Gala'."

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