A few hundred yards from the banks of the Bosporus strait, a face stares down at the highway below.
The poster outside the Besiktas club store reads ‘Dare to Create’. It stretches seven storeys high. The model of choice? Loris Karius. It is no different at the nearby Vodafone Park, where the stadium shop carries pictures of the on-loan goalkeeper at every turn. There is a simple reason. ‘Handsome,’ a store assistant smiles.
Here, for the last year, Karius has been seen but rarely heard.
Former Liverpool keeper Loris Karius is attempting to rebuild his ailing career in Turkey
For a time, he did not speak to the English press and wouldn’t give the Turkish media much, either. After Besiktas’ drew with Istanbul Basaksehir last month, Sportsmail tried to grab an interview. ‘No, sorry,’ he said repeatedly.
This week, though, he broke his silence at last. ‘I don’t think about Kiev anymore,’ he said. ‘People can say what they want, it doesn’t really concern me anymore. It’s so long ago.’
Nearly 17 months, in fact. Karius was 24 when his two crucial errors cost Liverpool the 2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid. Death threats and exile followed.
Within eight weeks, Karius had made another blunder and been replaced by Alisson. For the past year, the German has lived as an outcast in Turkey while Liverpool have gone from strength to strength, winning that sixth Champions League and pushing Manchester City in the league.
While keeping an eye on Liverpool — ‘I am happy they won the Champions League,’ he said — he is still trying to rebuild. But last month he made another howler against Slovan Bratislava. It hasn’t cost him his place but still uncertainty reigns.
Karius had made two crucial errors that cost Liverpool the Champions League final in 2018
Still only 26, Karius is hurtling towards another crossroads as he approaches the end of his two-year loan in Turkey. He believes he can play for Liverpool again, yet the reality seems very different.
In August, Liverpool were hit by a goalkeeping crisis once more. This time, Karius was 1,500 miles away. An injury to Alisson left Adrian as the club’s only fit senior goalkeeper.
Karius could not be recalled so in came Andy Lonergan, a 35-year-old journeyman who signed in time to pick up a medal as Liverpool beat Chelsea to win the Super Cup. At Karius’ new home, Vodafone Park. It was a cruel twist of fate, another reminder of what could have been.
Another irony is that following his Champions League howler, Karius chose to live at the scene of Liverpool’s greatest European night. Even the black and white of Besiktas is seeped with Liverpool red. The club has a big following here in Istanbul and if this was supposed to be an escape, Karius has only jumped out of the pan and into the fire.
‘I don’t know if he knew what he was getting himself into,’ admits Akin, a Besiktas fan.
The German stopper is the model of choice on the posters outside the Besiktas club store
‘If you want to play here…