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August 4, 2021

Burak Yilmaz, the briscard who carries the hopes of Turkey

A Turkish flag tied around his neck, which floats at his back like a Superman cape. This is how Burak Yilmaz celebrated the title of champion of France won by Lille, his club, at the expense of Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG), on May 23, at the Raymond-Kopa stadium in Angers.

Landed in the summer of 2020 in France in relative anonymity, the 35-year-old striker has revealed himself as one of the best players in the championship. By his charisma, his communicative rage to win and goals as decisive as they are spectacular, the Turkish player has been a great architect of the title of his team. He was even able to share this feat with two of his compatriots, Zeki Celik and Yusuf Yazici. Which caused some waves in the Bosphorus.

Read also Euro 2021: in the opening match, Italy dominates an outdated Turkey

“In Turkey this season all LOSC games have been watched as if it were the national team. It made the Turkish people proud ”, enthuses Mevlüt Erding, who plays in the local championship. In front of his TV, the Franco-Turk made patriotism prevail over his attachment to PSG. “Even I, who am a former Parisian player, was obliged to support LOSC”, admits the winner of the Coupe de France 2010 with the club from the capital.

In 2008, Erding was part of the Turkish selection which reached the semi-finals of the Euro. Turkey hasn’t made it past the first round of a major tournament since – they didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

To shine again the national team, which, Wednesday June 16, faces Wales at the Euro, it is the mission which falls on the “Kral” (“king”, in Turkish), the nickname of Burak Yilmaz . During the opening match against Italy (lost 3-0), Friday 11 June, however, we saw little to his ease.

Not the type to shave the walls

A few years ago, Erding paired up with him in the attack on the Turkish selection. “I remember a player who was so generous and imposing with his charisma”, retraces, admiringly, the former player of PSG, Sochaux and Saint-Etienne.

In a locker room, Yilmaz was never the type to shave the walls. Nor to keep his tongue in his pocket, as Yilmaz Vural, one of his first coaches at Antalyaspor, noted. “One day in training, he passed in front of me and stopped, opening his mouth very wide, told Vural in October 2020 on the website of France Football. I asked him what he was doing. He replied: “Even if I catch a bird with my mouth, you wouldn’t make me play!” (Laughs). “

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