After defeats by Germany and Azerbaijan in October 2010, Turkey coach Guus Hiddink rang the changes with Burak Yılmaz a chief beneficiary. A year on, the Trabzonspor AŞ forward is a key player in a Turkey side who require a minimum of four points from their final matches against the same two opponents to guarantee the runners-up spot in UEFA EURO 2012 Group A.
Burak had made his international debut in April 2006 against Azerbaijan under Fatih Terim yet endured four years in the international wilderness following mixed spells at Beşiktaş JK, Manisaspor and Fenerbahçe SK where he was often fielded as winger. However, following his emergence as a prolific striker with Trabzonspor, Hiddink recalled the 26-year-old for the friendly against the Netherlands last November and, having since scored in qualifiers against Belgium and Kazakhstan, he is relishing the chance to help secure his country's EURO finals place.
"I am confident we'll get four points from the two games," he told UEFA.com. "We need at least a point from the Germany match. We have a lot of respect for them but at home [in Istanbul] we are capable of beating any team because our players have great potential.
"Germany have always been a disciplined team but in the last few years they have become even more creative. Games between the two countries are always prestigious and they will bring a full-strength squad to Turkey but just as we don't overestimate Germany, we don't underestimate Azerbaijan either."
The tall striker, who scored 19 goals in 30 Super League outings last season, revealed how manager Hiddink has brought the best out of him. "He openly tells me what he wants me to do on the pitch because he is fully aware of my capabilities," he said. "I can feel his faith in me. The most important factor for a player is self-confidence. I have become an established international in a very difficult way and I do not want to give that away easily."
The feeling between player and coach is mutual, with Hiddink holding the attacker in the highest regard. "Burak is a modern professional footballer," said the former Netherlands, South Korea, Australia and Russia coach. "I like his determination and hard-working character. He never complains about anything in training. He gives power to the whole team and never avoids taking risks in matches. He is the type of player you rarely see nowadays."
Having hit all seven of Trabzonspor's league goals this term, Burak has also earned the praise of club coach Şenol Güneş. "He has come to terms with his talent and character," said the former national team boss. "He has a strong attitude and Turkey now has a new star at European level."
Burak will aim to confirm that stellar status in Istanbul on Friday.
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