Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who won a second term in office in a landslide victory on Sunday, was once a footballer in Cyprus.

Imamoglu, who was born near the Black Sea city of Trabzon, moved to Cyprus in 1988, and turned out as a goalkeeper for Turkish Cypriot side Turk Ocagi Limasol.

He spent two years in Cyprus, studying at universities on the island when he was not playing football. During his first year, he studied at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta, and during the second, he studied at the Girne American University in Kyrenia.

After two years on the island, he transferred to Istanbul University, eventually graduating with a degree in business administration.

On his time on the island, he said, “I spent two years in Cyprus filled with wonderful memories. Cyprus is a great place and a place of great importance in my life.”

In addition, Cyprus has been credited with introducing Imamoglu to social democracy, with Imamoglu himself having been quoted as saying that his time on the island “constituted a turning point in determining my political views.”

Once back in Turkey, he resided in the district of Beylikduzu in the west of Istanbul, becoming the district’s mayor in 2014.

He then became Istanbul mayor in 2019, pulling off a shock victory over the ruling Ak Party’s candidate former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, before renewing his mandate on Sunday with a crushing victory over his Ak Party challenger Murat Kurum.

He was congratulated on his victory by Turkish Cypriot Nicosia mayor Mehmet Harmanci, who described him as a “dear friend.

Turk Ocagi Limasol’s fortune has been less stellar than Imamoglu’s in recent years, with the now Kyrenia-based outfit having already been relegated from the north’s top division with five games to play. They have won just one league game all season.

local elections in istanbul

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu,