7 Turkish footballers in World Cup who never represented Turkey

Watching Turkey’s football team compete at the FIFA World Cup is literally a rare feat! So rare that it is something you get to experience every five decades. Turkey have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup only on two occasions: first in 1954, recording a group-stage finish, and in 2002, where they finished third.

In the absence of Turkey, Milli takim fans find consolation in watching players with Turkish heritage/citizenship represent other countries.

More than 6 million people of Turkish ancestry live in Europe outside Turkey itself, a human connection that has bound Turkey and the wider European community. So, it is no surprise that some of the finest players representing European nations other than Turkey to have Turkish connections.

Some of these players wanted to represented Turkey, where their parents hailed from, but were not given the chance of wearing the Red and White (and sometimes turquoise) jersey – and some understandably end up representing the nation they were part of.

Here’s a look at the 7 best Turkish footballers in World Cup who never represented Turkey.

7- SERDAR TASCI (Germany 2010)

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Mandatory Credit: Photo by Back Page Images/Shutterstock (1182382z) Serdar Tasci of Germany 2010 FIFA Football World Cup Squads – 2010 FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group 4 Wales v Germany

Born in Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, to Turkish parents from Artvin, Serdar Tasci was called up to the Germany squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by coach Löw.

A solid defender with leadership skills, Tasci eventually made his World Cup debut as a substitute in Germany’s third place match against Uruguay, coming on in the 91st minute for Özil. However he struggled to touch the ball in his 125 seconds on the pitch.

Tasci was capped 14 times for Germany from 2008 to 2010.

ACCOLADES: German Champions with Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart, Russian Champion with Spartak Moscow, German Cup winner with Bayern Munich, Russian Super Cup with Spartak Moscow

CAREER IN TURKEY: Yes, after an illustrious decade in VfB Stuttgart and Bayern Munich, Serdar Tasci ended up playing for Basaksehir Istanbul for 4 games in 2019.

6- JIMMY DURMAZ (Sweden 2018)

Durmaz was born in Örebro, Seden into a Syriac family of the Syriac Orthodox faith. His father Semun is a Turkish-Syriac who migrated to Sweden from Midyat in southeastern Turkey, while his mother is a Lebanese-Syriac. He also holds Turkish citizenship

The tricky winger was named in Sweden’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, but only made one appearance in the tournament, coming on as a substitute against Germany in the group stage. After conceding a last-minute free kick in the game, from which Toni Kroos scored to beat Sweden 2–1, Durmaz was subjected to racial abuse and threats of violence on social media. The Swedish Football Federation/National team, however publicly supported Jimmy Durmaz (something zee Germans could have learned from)

Durmaz was capped 49 times for Sweden from 2011 to 2019 and scored 3 goals.

ACCOLADES: 2 x Greek Champion with Olympiacos, Turkish Super Cup winner with Galatasaray, Swedish Champion with Malmo, Greek Cup winner with Olympiakos

CAREER IN TURKEY: Jimmy Durmaz played for Genclerbirligi (2012-2014) and, Galatasaray (2019-2021). He was playing for Fatih Karagumruk – Istanbul in 2022.

5- EREN DERDIYOK (Switzerland 2010)

Derdiyok was born in Basel, Switzerland, into a Kurdish family from Turkey. He also holds Turkish citizenship

Knowing for his devastating bicyle kick goals, Derdiyok was in the Switzerland 23-man squad for the 2010 World Cup where he played twice.

Primarily a striker, but able to play as an emergency defender, Derdiyok was capped 60 times for Switzerland from 2008 to 2018 netting 11 goals.

ACCOLADES: 2 x Turkish Champions with Galatasaray, Turkish Super Cup winner with Galatasaray, Swiss Champion with Basel, 2 x Swiss Cup winner with Basel, 2 x Uzbek Champion with Tashkent, Uzbek cup winner with Tashkent

CAREER IN TURKEY: Derdiyok played for Kasimpasa (2014-2016), Galatasaray (2016-2019), Goztepe (2019) and currently he is playing for Ankaragucu.

4- HAKAN YAKIN (Switzerland 2006, 2010)

Hakan Yakin converts Eren Derdiyok’s assist to score against Turkey

Yakin was born in Basel, Switzerland, to Turkish parents.

Known for his superb technique and long range goals, Yakin has played in both the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup for Switzerland.

Yakin was capped 87 times for Switzerland from 2000 to 2011 scoring 20 goals.

He famously had refused to celebrate the goal he scored against Turkey, out of respect.

Hakan’s older brother Murat Yakin, is currently coaching the Swiss national team.

ACCOLADES: Turkish Cup winner with Galatasaray, 2 x Swiss Champion with Basel, 2 x Swiss Champion with Grasshopper, 2 x Swiss cup winner with Basel

CAREER IN TURKEY: Yes, Hakan played for Galatasaray (on loan from Stuttgart) in 2004 where he won the Turkish Cup.

3- GOKHAN INLER (Switzerland 2010, 2014)

Gokhan Inler of Switzerland

Born in Olten in the Canton of Solothurn to Turkish parents, İnler played under-21 football for both Switzerland and Turkey. He made his debut for the Switzerland senior team in 2006 and has since earned 89 caps, scoring seven goals, making him Switzerland’s fifth-most capped player of all time.

A midfield general who represents the epitome of fighter who plays with passion and equally able to deliver magic on the field when it is most needed, Inler represented Switzerland at 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, captaining them in both tournaments.

He was capped 89 times for Switzerland from 2006 to 2015, scoring 7 times.

ACCOLADES: Premier League Champion with Leicester, 2 x Italian Cup winner with Napoli, 1 Italian Super Cup with Napoli, Turkish Champion with Besiktas, Turkish Champion with Basaksehir, 2 x Swiss cup winner with Zurich

CAREER IN TURKEY: Yes, although Gokhan Inler had an unsuccessful trial at Fenerbahce at the start of his career. after a stellar decade in Serie A and the EPL, he signed for Besiktas (2016) and later played for Basaksehir (2017-2020) and is currently playing for Adana Demirspor.

2- ILKAY GUNDOGAN (Germany 2018, 2022)

Gündoğan was born in Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia to Turkish parents

An intelligent and complete midfielder the ability to keep the ball moving quickly, setting the tempo, organising his own team-mates while destabilising the opposition, Gundogan represented Germany in 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

He scored Germany’s only goal in their opening 2022 World Cup game ended in a 2-1 defeat against Japan.

Gundogan has been capped 66 times for Germany since 2011, scoring 17 times.

ACCOLADES: 4 x English Premier League champions with Manchester City, 4 x English League Cup winner with Man City, 2 x English Super winner with Man City, German Champion with Dortmund, German Cup winner with Dortmund, 2 x German super cup winner with Dortmund.

CAREER IN TURKEY: No, Gundogan is the only player in this list who never played in Turkey.

1- MESUT OZIL (Germany 2010,2014,2018)

Ozil vs Brazil

Ozil too was born and raised in Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia to Turkish parents.

Mesut Ozil may be the most polarizing name in world football right now. To his fans, he is a magician, a wizard with near-flawless technique and playmaking instincts that border on the prophetic. To his detractors, the Germany international is physically weak, one-dimensional and a defensive liability.

– Clark Whitney https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1958161-explaining-the-enigma-that-is-mesut-ozil

He made his senior debut for the Germany national team in 2009 at age 20, and appeared in five major tournaments (Euro 2012, 2016 and World Cup 2010, 2014 and 2018).

He was the top assist provider at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, where he helped Germany twice reach the semi-final.

Özil helped Germany win the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but retired from international competition in 2018, after being scapegoated by the German media.

Despite the German national team heavily under-performing, Özil averaged more chances created per 90 minutes (5.5) than any other player in the competition. However the German media made Mesut Ozil the scapegoat for their World Cup failure.

Mesut famously stated “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.

Ozil was capped 92 times for Germany from 2009 to 2018 scoring 23 times.

ACCOLADES: German Player of the Year 14/15, World Cup Winner 2014, Spanish Champion with Real Madrid, German Cup winner with Werder Bremen, 4 x English FA Cup winner with Arsenal, Spanish Cup winner with Real Madrid

CAREER IN TURKEY: Yes, after an illustrious career in Bundesliga, Real Madrid and Arsenal, Ozil signed for Fenerbahce, the team he supported as a child. However he was unable to make an impact and his contract was eventually terminated. He joined Basaksehir in 2022.

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