All time best Turkish national team starting XI

Turkey's supporters wave flags prior the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Turkey and France at the Buyuksehir Belediyesi stadium in Konya, on June 8, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish Football takes a look at – in our opinion – the best Turkish national team starting XI of all time.

Rüştü Reçber (Goalkeeper)

Rüştü is widely regarded as one of the greatest Turkish goalkeepers of all time, and he played for the national team from 1994 to 2012. He holds the record for the most appearances by a Turkish goalkeeper, with 120 caps.

Sabri Sarıoğlu (Right-back)

Sabri was a versatile right-back who played for the national team from 2004 to 2014. He was known for his stamina, technical ability, and defensive skills.

Bulent Korkmaz (Centre-back)

Bulent is considered one of the best Turkish centre-backs in history, and he played for the national team from 1990 to 2005. He was a tough, physical defender who was also skilled on the ball.

Alpay Ozalan (Centre-back)

Alpay was a dominant centre-back who played for the national team from 1995 to 2005. He was a strong and aggressive defender who was also skilled in the air.

Hakan Ünsal (Left-back)

Hakan Ünsal was a versatile player who could play in defense or midfield. He played for the Turkish national team between 1994 and 2007 and was a key member of the team that reached the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup.

Tugay Kerimoğlu (Central midfielder)

The chain smoking midfielder is one of the greatest Turkish footballers of all time. He played for the national team between 1990 and 2003 and was known for his technical ability and passing skills. Former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes, who managed and played against some of the greats had the following the say about him: “Best I’ve managed, best I’ve played against, probably in my top three, I rated him that highly. A real character, always liked a fag at half-time. A great guy.”

Hamit Altıntop (Central midfielder)

Hamit ‘Golden balls’ – yes his surname translates to golden balls – was a versatile midfielder who could play in a number of positions. He played in 81 matches for the national team and was a key player in the team’s run to the semi-finals of Euro 2008. He became the first Turkish international player to lift a Champions League title with Bayern Munich.

Emre Belözoğlu (Central midfielder)

Emre was one of the most skilled and gifted central midfielders to ever play for Turkey. He made 106 appearances for the national team. He was a key player in the team’s success at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2008. The midfielder was a classy operator with a wide passing range, was great on the ball and contributed well to defence and attack. In a highly decorated career he helped Galatasaray become the first Turkish side to win European silverware after lifting the 2000 UEFA Cup and then the European Super Cup. He also played for the Lions rivals Fenerbahce and abroad at Inter Milan and Newcastle United.

Arda Turan (Attacking midfielder)

Arda was a creative attacking midfielder who played in 100 matches for the national team. He was a key player in the team’s run to the Euro 2008 semi-final finish. At club level he won every trophy there is to win at domestic level in Turkey at Galatasaray and in Spain for Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. As well as European trophies except the Champions League. Turan has always been a mix of genius and madness. At Atleti he famously took off his football boot and through it at a linesman. While in Turkey he was involved in a nightclub fight and later fired off a gun in a hospital. Turan was issued the biggest fine ever in Turkish football after being accused of breaking popstar Berkay Sahin’s nose, carrying an unlicensed gun and firing it in the hospital the singer was taken.

Hakan Şükür (Forward)

Hakan is one of the greatest strikers in the history of Turkish football. He played in 112 matches for the national team and scored 51 goals. He is best known for scoring the fastest goal in World Cup history, just 11 seconds into the third-place match at the 2002 World Cup. Despite his success on the pitch Sukur is now living as a fugitive in exile due to his links to terrorist organisation outlawed by the Turkish state.

Nihat Kahveci (Forward)

Nihat Kahveci was one of the stars of the Euro 2008 campaign that saw Turkey reach the semi-finals. scored 19 goals in 69 appearances for Turkey. His most important goals were the brace against Czech Republic in the Euro 2008 group stage which saw Turkey qualify for the knockout stage. Kahveci had an impressive career