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Mar 13, 2013

Mixed emotions for Altintop after Gala beat Schalke

Galatasaray's Hamit Altintop asked Schalke fans for forgiveness after scoring a goal which helped eliminate his former club from the Champions League on Tuesday night.

• Blog: Gala combine head and heart

When Altintop scored a stunning long-range strike to level the score at the Schalke Arena on Tuesday night, the Gelsenkirchen-born midfielder celebrated his first goal of the season with his team-mates but, as he admitted afterwards, he had mixed emotions.

"Leveling the score was quite strange for me. On one hand, I was happy, on the other hand I had to keep quite a few emotions in check," Altintop told uefa.com. "I hope the Schalke fans will forgive me for scoring today."

The Turkey international, who was raised only a few kilometres away from Schalke's stadium, spent four years at the club before joining Bayern Munich in 2007. While he still feels an emotional connection to the club, Altintop is glad to have reached the quarter-finals with his current side.

"I am still a Schalke lad," Altintop told Sky after the game. "Even if people might not believe me. I am at a different club now. The Galatasaray fans deserve my jubilation and my passion, like I have shown it a Schalke back then.

"We took the initiative in the first half and brought through our game. Of course, Schalke sat back and watched a bit just like we had done in the first leg. During the second half Schalke went full throttle. Both games were really close. Both teams had their chances and maybe I could have made it a bit clearer in the first leg with my shot against the crossbar.

"Overall this was good football and maybe we had the luck on our side. But I'll take that." Galatasaray midfielder Nordin Amrabat also claimed he was happy with the result and already looked ahead to the Champions League draw on Friday.

"We're now one of the best eight teams in Europe - that's surely a reason to celebrate. Our fans are the best in the world," he told uefa.com. "They gave us a fantastic support today. I always say: 'the sky's the limit'. There are very strong teams. I'd be happy to play anyone, even Barcelona and Real Madrid. I've never played against them."

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