Turkey have a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde reputation in world football ranging from the magnificent achievements of finishing third at the 2002 World Cup and making it to the Semi-finals of Euro 2008 to not even qualifying at all. They’re up against some understandably high expectations given the caliber of both the players they produce and the improving level of the domestic league. Turkey also has the eyes of the world upon them for political reasons at the moment. The team and fans alike will be under pressure to give a good account of themselves at Euro 2016 because of the government’s pending application for EU membership.
How They Qualified: Turkey qualified as the ‘best third placed’ team in their qualifying groups after finishing 4 points below Czech Republic and 2 behind Iceland in group A. A 3-0 home victory over the shamefully wretched Dutch, a 2-0 win over the group winners in Prague and an 89th-minute winner against Iceland in the last match saved them from the play-offs by a point at the expense of Hungary.
Tournament History: Semi-finals 2008.
Coach: Fatih Terim (pictured above).
If there is a coach to exemplify ‘the journeyman coach’ Faith Terim is one of them. He has been the coach of both Galatasaray and Turkey on three separate occasions, each. He also divided about a year of his career between Fiorentina and AC Milan in the early 2000s. He took Turkey to their first ever European Championship in 1996 and was back in the hot-seat for their charge to the semi-final in 2008. Known for an aggressive and attacking style he has the personality to match.
Nickname: y-Yıldızlılar (The Crescent-Stars)
Key Man: Arda Turan.
The former Atletico Madrid midfielder has struggled to fit in at Barcelona after swapping the Spanish capital for Catalunya a year ago. He was once regularly deployed on the right in an attacking 3 under Simeone at Atleti but hasn’t been able to break into the central midfield role at Barcelona he occupies in for his country.
One To Watch: Oguzhan Ozyakup.
The former Arsenal player and FA Youth Cup winner moved to Besiktas in 2012 for $750,000. He was never going to make it in North London but just in case the Gunners reportedly inserted a $20 million buy-back clause into the deal upon his departure. Like most Arsenal products he has a superb technical ability but needs to hit the weights if he is going to make an impact in France.
June 12, 9 a.m. vs. Croatia
June 17, 3 p.m. vs. Spain
June 21, 3 p.m. vs. Czech Republic
Goalkeepers: Onur Kıvrak (Trabzonspor), Harun Tekin (Bursaspor), Hakan Balta (Galatasaray).
Defenders: Hakan Balta (Galatasaray), Ahmet Yılmaz Çalık (Gençlerbirliği), Caner Erkin (Fenerbahçe), Gökhan Gönül (Fenerbahçe), Semih Kaya (Galatasaray), İsmail Köybaşı (Beşiktaş), Şener Özbayraklı (Fenerbahçe).
Midfield: Hakan Çalhanoğlu (Bayer Leverkusen), Selçuk İnan (Galatasaray), Yunus Mallı (Mainz), Emre Mor (FC Nordsjælland), Oğuzhan Özyakup (Beşiktaş), Olcay Şahan (Beşiktaş), Nuri Şahin (Borussia Dortmund), Volkan Şen (Fenerbahçe), Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahçe), Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahçe), Arda Turan (Barcelona).
Forwards: Cenk Tosun (Beşiktaş), Burak Yılmaz (Beijing Guoan).