The former striker netted 51 goals in his 112 appearances playing for Turkey, making him the nation’s all-time top goal scorer.
Between 1987 and 2008, Sukur played for the likes of Galatasaray in Turkey, as well as Italy’s Inter Milan and English side Blackburn Rovers.
After retiring from soccer Sukur went into politics, winning a seat in Turkey’s parliament as a member of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s right-wing Justice and Development Party in 2011.
Erdogan was even said to be guest at Sukur’s wedding to his first wife Esra, who died in the 1999 İzmit earthquake.
However, the player was also linked to Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who Erdogan opposed, with the president starting to crack down on those who followed the intellectual.
This led Sukur to step down from parliament, telling the New York Times in an interview in 2018 that afterwards he started to face “administrative issues” with his businesses in Turkey.
In 2015, the soccer player fled to Palo Alto, California and ended up running a cafe in the area.
But Sukur’s new life in America with his wife and three children was thrown into chaos in 2016, after an attempted coup on Erdogan’s government was suspected to be orchestrated by Gülen.
Having been associated with the scholar, a warrant was issued for Sukur’s arrest and he was reported by Turkey’s state-run media to be “living the high life” as a “fugitive member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).”
His father Sermet, still living in Turkey at the time, was arrested and jailed for nearly a year.
Turkey’s Andolu Agency reported that Sukur was living in a $3 million house in the “richest area of San Francisco Bay Area” and he said “strange” people started coming into the cafe.
Sukur claimed Erdogan’s government had confiscated all of his houses, businesses and bank accounts in Turkey, according to reported translations of his latest interview.
CNBC contacted the Turkish government for a response but received no comment at the time of writing.
Now 48-years-old, Sukur said in the interview he earns a living by driving an Uber and selling books.
“I have nothing left, Erdogan took everything: my right to liberty, freedom of expression and right to work,” he reportedly said.