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06/05/2018 13:45
Gözde vs Neslihan - Reaching beyond the dream
2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women

Bucharest, Romania, May 6, 2018.  The end of two glorious Volleyball journeys will obviously come together with the end of the Final Four of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women in Bucharest on Sunday. Two of the biggest stars of Turkish and international women’s Volleyball, Gözde Kırdar and Neslihan Demir Güler, have already announced that they are closing their athletic careers and the matches they play at #CLF4Bucharest will be their last ones as professional players.

After her team, VakifBank ISTANBUL, won their semifinal and reached the big final on Sunday, Gözde is facing the fantastic opportunity to finish with a big trophy – that of a continental champion. For her and her team, that would be the fourth Champions League title, after 2011, 2013 and 2017. To add to Gözde’s glorious years with VakifBank, they also won the FIVB Club World Championship twice, in 2013 and 2017, as well as many more medals on both the international and the national level. Gözde herself was honoured as the Best Receiver of the 2011 Champions League and got on the Dream Team of the 2013 Club World Championship as one of the two Best Outside Hitters, the most remarkable of her many individual awards.

Neslihan Demir Güler is considered one of the most successful and most charismatic sports personalities in Turkey. Among many other impressive achievements on the club level, she is also a two-time world champion (2015 and 2016) with her former team, Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL. They won the Champions League gold in 2015 as well. Neslihan is hoping to finish her career with a medal by winning the #CLF4Bucharest third place match as Galatasaray SK ISTANBUL’s opposite. Previously in Europe’s most prestigious club competition, Neslihan was individually recognised as Best Spiker in 2014 and topped a number of charts for Best Scorer and Best Server.

For many years, Gözde and Neslihan played together on the Turkish national team, winning medals from the CEV European Championship, the FIVB World Grand Prix, the CEV European League, etc. They both point to the 2012 Olympics as a memorable moment in their careers, as their team made history by qualifying for the Games for the first time ever, while Neslihan herself was the flag bearer for her country at the Parade of Nations in London. The list of her individual awards on the national team level is even more impressive – Best Scorer of the 2006 World Championships, the 2011 European Championship, the 2009 and the 2010 European Leagues, Best Server of the 2012 World Grand Prix, Most Valuable Player of the 2009 European League, among many others.

As both Neslihan and Gözde admitted in an interview for CEV they gave during the Final Four in Bucharest, their glorious Volleyball journey took them far beyond than they even dreamed of when they started...

This must be a very emotional moment for you... Describe your feelings, please.

Gözde: At the same time, I am so happy and I am a little bit sad. I can imagine my life really happy and peaceful. I know that a very great future is waiting for me. I feel so lucky because not so many athletes can finish with three or four cups.

Neslihan: I feel a little emotional, because I spoke with my teammates and they told me very good things about me. It is a little sad, but I also feel relieved. We’ll see... I will tell you on Sunday...

What would you say were some of the biggest highlights of your Volleyball career?

Gözde: There are many, but one I can’t forget – when we first became Champions League winners in 2011. It is so important and so emotional for me, because my twin sister was on the same team with me. We made some history for Turkey and it is unforgettable!

Probably the Olympic Games. I was the flag bearer for my country and it was a very proud moment for me.

If you go back to your dreams from the time you started playing Volleyball, would you say they came true?

Gözde: More than true I believe… I didn’t imagine it would be like this. But I worked really hard, so I deserve this. It is more than a dream really; it’s like heaven!

Neslihan: When I started with Volleyball, I expected less, actually. I went further than my dreams. It wasn’t my dream, but it was great!

What would be your advice for the young Volleyball hopefuls at the start of their careers?

Gözde: I always say – if you work like everybody, you will become like everybody, but if you work more than everybody, you will become something special.

Neslihan: I would tell them they have to be patient about Volleyball, they have to work a lot, first of all, stay focused and never give up.

How do you imagine your life after Volleyball?

Gözde: With a big family, with babies around me – I really want to become a mother… So with my husband, with my family all around me – peaceful, green, by the sea… I want sun and sea every time and every day of my life. I imagine myself with a really happy life.

Neslihan: I don’t know. Really! I have a daughter. Probably I will be a very good mother. Before I wasn’t, but from now I will be a very good mother. We’ll see… I will do something for sure, but I don’t know now.

You know that Neslihan / Gözde is also retiring. Do you have a special memory with her that you would like to share?

Gözde: Yes, of course. I played with her in the national team for more than 10 years. We have a great memory of the 2012 Olympics. At the Olympic qualification in Ankara we made a miracle – this is an unforgettable memory…

Neslihan: We played together for many years in the national team, in the same club also… We won a lot of games and we lost a lot of games, but we had so much fun with her. It is a very good thing we are retiring together. We almost started together and now we finish together.

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