11 Turkish footballers playing abroad
At Turkey Homes, we know how fanatic the nation is about football. Whether it's Galatasaray, Besiktas, Fenerbahce, or even Didimspor, football, just as much as politics, divides family and friends, and sparks intense rivalry and debate.
While Everton have recently splashed a cool £25m with Besiktas to sign 26-year-old striker Cenk Tosun, did you know there is a legion of Turkish players plying their trades abroad?
Of the 45 Turkish players playing in 19 countries, from Australia to Switzerland, here are our top 11 players making a name for themselves:
Cenk Tosun: The latest Turkish addition to the Premier League has seen striker Tosun move from Germany to Turkey and then to England all within the space of seven seasons. He has been snapped up on a four-and-a-half year deal with Everton, but before this he played for Besiktas, scoring 24 times in the 2016-17 season as his club won the national league. Prior to that, he completed three seasons with Gaziantepspor helping the team win the Spor Toto Cup in 2012. He began his career in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt but only played one senior game before switching to Turkey. Tosun has also made 25 appearances for the Turkish national side, scoring eight goals.
Arda Turan: With more than 90 appearances and 17 goals for the national team, Turan is one of the most famous Turkish players of modern times, having played for Spanish clubs Athletico Madrid and Barcelona. An attacking midfielder, he has captained Galatasaray and was ranked eighth of the 100 Best Young Football Players in the World following UEFA Euro 2008. The only Turkish player to be named among the world's top 100 players in 2014, he played for four seasons with Athletico and was instrumental in getting the team to the Champions League final in 2014. At Barca, he played 36 games, scoring five goals, but switched back to the Turkish league in 2017-18, on loan to Istanbul Basaksehir
Gökhan Töre: From Germany to Russia, back to Turkey and out to West Ham United in England, winger Töre has had a nomadic career over the last seven years. Starting out at Chelsea, he joined Hamburger SV in 2011 before joining Russian side Rubin Kazan in 2012.
He switched to Turkey's leading team Besiktas in 2014 where he signed a five-year deal. Having played 52 games, he went to West Ham on loan in 2016, but only played five games before injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu: A German-born attacking midfielder of Turkish ancestry, Çalhanoğlu now plays for Italian team AC Milan. He signed a four-year deal in July 2017 for €20 million and quickly cemented his place in the team. He arrived with a career in German football having played for Hamburger SV and Bayer Leverkusen. He is the first Turk to score in Italy's Serie A for 15 years and has represented the Turkish national side 28 teams.
Mesut Özil: Another German-born player of Turkish descent, Özil is probably one of the most notable of his generation. An attacking midfielder, he has served in Germany's Bundesliga with Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen, before he secured a €15 million transfer with La Liga giants Real Madrid. Having won major awards, he switched to England and Arsenal in a €50 million signing in 2013 and helped the team to end a near-decade trophy drought, by winning the FA Cup in 2014. He has also notched up 86 appearances for Germany's national team, including two World Cup campaigns.
Jem Karacan: Born to an English mother and Turkish father, London-born midfielder Karacan turned down a four-year deal to play for Galatasaray, his father's favoured team, at the age of 14, citing language difficulties. Instead, he opted for Reading where he served seven years, including loan spells with Bournemouth and Millwall. In 2015, he signed for Galatasaray for two years but only made two senior appearances during that time. He has recently secured a contract with Bolton Wanderers, helping them secure promotion to the Championship with a goal in the final match of the 2016-17 season.
Cengiz Ünder: Now plying his trade with Italian club, Roma, Ünder is a versatile midfielder who began his career at Bucaspor before joining Turkey's Altinordu in 2014. After 50 games and 11 goals, he was signed by Basaksehir – for whom he played 32 games and scored seven goals in the Turkish Super Lig. In the summer of 2017, the 20-year-old went to Roma for a fee of €13.4 million. He has broken into the Turkish national team, scoring two goals in four appearances.
Omer Toprak: Centre back Toprak has spent his entire footballing career in Germany, first with SC Freiburg, before a successful six-year stint at top side Bayer Leverkusen where he played 154 times. In 2017, he switched allegiances to Borussia Dortmund.
Emre Colak: One of the few players plying their trade in Spain, winger Colak has been with Deportivo de La Coruña since 2016 having joined from Galatasaray where, over six years he played more than 130 times and scored 10 goals.
Colin Kazim-Richards: England-born to Turkish Cypriot-Antiguan parents, Richards, a striker, has had a colourful career that presently sees him playing in Brazil for Corinithians. He has played for 13 clubs across seven countries, including stays at a clutch of British clubs, including Celtic, Brighton, Sheffield Utd and Blackburn, as well as forging a career in Europe that has seen him take in Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Feyernoord and Olympiacos.
Bilal Basacikoglu: Turkish-Moroccan Basacikoglu, who was born in the Netherlands, has forged a career in the country of his birth, firstly with SC Heerenveen before landing a big money move with Feyenoord. Since 2014 he has made 63 appearances and received hs first senior call up to the Turkish national team in 2016.