The next destination of our alphabetical world tour is Turkey. The 2002 World Cup semi-finalists have been represented by 16 players in the Premier League era, the first of which was…
First Player – Muzzy Izzet (Leicester, Birmingham; 1996-2002, 2003-06)
Born in England, Mustapha “Muzzy” Izzet came through the ranks at Chelsea and joined Leicester City in 1996 without making a league appearance for the Blues.
A central midfielder with an eye for goal, Izzet formed a successful partnership with Neil Lennon as the Foxes enjoyed four consecutive top-half finishes, reaching the League Cup Final on three occasions and lifting the trophy twice.
Despite a strained relationship with Leicester after the turn of the century, Izzet remained with the club following their relegation in 2002, helping the Foxes return at the first time of asking before departing for Birmingham in 2004.
- Most appearances – Muzzy Izzet (248)
- First appearance – Muzzy Izzet (Sunderland 0-0 LEICESTER, August 17th 1996)
- Most goals – Muzzy Izzet (34)
- First goal – Muzzy Izzet (Aston Villa 1-3 LEICESTER, November 16th 1996)
Current/Most Recent Players
Two Turks featured in the Premier League in 2019/20 before the suspension, including one of the campaigns breakthrough stars. Leicester defender Çağlar Söyüncü has made a seamless transition into the heart of the Foxes defence, proving a ready-made replacement for the departed Harry Maguire.
While Söyüncü has thrived, Cenk Tosun endured a more challenging season. After a disappointing first half of the season on the fringes at Everton, Tosun moved to Crystal Palace on loan. After just five further games, he suffered a season-ending injury and returned to Everton for treatment.
- The 16 players to have represented Turkey in the Premier League were born in five different countries.
- Turkey have appeared in only two World Cup finals tournaments. In both, they were knocked out by a nation they had previously played at the same tournament, who went on to win the World Cup (West Germany – 1954, Brazil – 2002)
- Former Blackburn striker Hakan Şükür scored the fastest ever goal in a World Cup Finals match, giving Turkey the lead after 10.8 seconds in the 2002 third-place playoff match against South Korea. Şükür is also wanted in connection to the military coup in Turkey in 2016. He is currently living in America and his Turkish assets having reportedly been seized.