Yakin brothers light up resurgent Luzern

In the six short months that they were reunited, brothers Murat and Hakan Yakin shrugged off the doubters and helped propel FC Luzern into Swiss title contention.

After serving Luzern for three years, Hakan Yakin has now moved on to a new challenge at Bellinzona
After serving Luzern for three years, Hakan Yakin has now moved on to a new challenge at Bellinzona ©Getty Images

Between 2001 and 2003 the Yakin brothers were a sensation. After helping FC Basel 1893 to their first Swiss Super League title for over 20 years, they were then involved in the club's memorable showing in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League campaign, when Christian Gross's charges reached the second group stage, and narrowly missed out on a quarter-final berth.

By then Hakan was already deployed in the playmaker role, while Murat held things together in the heart of defence, occasionally venturing into midfield to help his brother orchestrate attacks. Inevitably the partnership had to end and Hakan left for VfB Stüttgart in 2004, before landing at Luzern via BSC Young Boys. His brother departed two years later to begin a career in coaching.

Both siblings had always said they would love to be reunited in football at one point, Hakan saying: "It would be a dream for us to work together again." So when Luzern's president Walter Stierli recruited Murat to replace Rolf Fringer as head coach, the partnership was renewed, albeit with Murat now as his brother's boss.

It was a state of affairs that raised the inevitable accusations of favouritism. "I treat all the players equally," insisted Murat at the time. "We are able to separate our personal and professional commitments." Hakan added: "Muri will criticise me as well, if he thinks it's necessary."

Any prospect of nepotism was soon dispelled when Hakan, the scorer of 20 goals in 87 internationals for Switzerland, was substituted after 54 minutes of his side's 1-1 draw with FC Sion in the fifth league match of the season, while the threat of souring family relations was also avoided as Luzern climbed up the table. With their new coach and a new stadium, Die Leuchten have shot up to second place in the Swiss standings. "There was never any doubt that it would work," insisted Murat.

It was a brief final hurrah, however, Hakan having left this month for a fresh challenge with second-tier outfit AC Bellinzona, who have offered the 34-year-old a subsequent position as promoter for their new stadium. It was an agonising decision to make but, in Hakan's own words, "it was a sensational offer that I couldn't turn down".

Murat accepted his brother's decision with grace, but recognises how difficult it will be to replace him. "Hakan is a fantastic player, but we have our own philosophy here, and we also have objectives that we will pursue without him," Murat said. Luzern's goal is to re-establish themselves as the leading light in Swiss football, and improve on the performance of last season when they challenged for the title and occupied top spot at the winter break before falling away to finished a disappointing sixth.

Players such as Adrian Winter and Nelson Ferreira, and former Swiss international Daniel Gygax, will hope to prevent a similar collapse this time around. In the meantime Murat has the unenviable task of finding an adequate replacement for his brother.