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The unstoppable rise of Nuri

Published: Tuesday 11 October 2005, 13.09CET
Nuri Sahin made a spectacular international debut for Turkey, bearing out the promise he showed in May's UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
by Paul Saffer & Türker Tozar
from Istanbul

Published: Tuesday 11 October 2005, 13.09CET

The unstoppable rise of Nuri

Nuri Sahin made a spectacular international debut for Turkey, bearing out the promise he showed in May's UEFA European Under-17 Championship.

Nuri Sahin, who made a spectacular debut for Turkey on Saturday, had not played a minute of senior competitive football when he began to turn heads.

Prodigious maturity
Anyone at May's UEFA European Under-17 Championship was left in no doubt as to the star of that tournament, the player most likely to achieve future success, and unusually it was not a free-scoring forward. Turkey may have lost their opening game to hosts Italy, but they dominated, and the midfield was run by a 16-year-old with the maturity of a man a decade older.

Late winner
BV Borussia Dortmund's Nuri went on to grab the late winner against England and was the inspiration in the 5-1 victory over Belarus that took Turkey through. Nuri was already being singled out by the likes of UEFA technical observer Timo Liekoski; the fulcrum of the Turkish midfield, he was as happy breaking up attacks as starting - and sometimes finishing - new ones.

'Great team'
Talking to uefa.com before the semi-finals, a clearly confident Nuri said: "We did not worry [about losing to Italy] because we know we are a great team and knew we could beat England and Belarus - and we have done it."

Further honours
That bullishness was justified as Turkey won the tournament, but that was only the start. In August, Dortmund made him the youngest-ever Bundesliga player at 16 years and 335 days. He then went to Peru and helped Turkey to the FIFA U-17 World Championship semi-final, winning the bronze ball as third-best player and silver shoe as second-top scorer.

Dramatic debut
Then came Saturday, and as an 86th-minute substitute he took just three minutes to score what proved the winner in a friendly against his adopted country Germany, who had hoped Nuri would represent them one day. Indeed, Nuri is a product of the Turkish Football Association's representative office in Germany which was established in 1998.

Scouts impressed
Turkey's European scout Metin Tekin said: "We first watched Nuri aged 14 when he played in a Futsal tournament with Dortmund's C team. He caught our eye. When we watched him on grass, his team lost but Nuri was the only player to impress for Dortmund. After that, we decided to call him up for our youth team camps in Turkey. Nuri is a well-mannered, well-educated and mature fellow. Despite being 17, he has the character of a 20-year-old."

Keane comparison
During his uefa.com interview in the summer, Nuri revealed his dream of playing in England, and singled out Cristiano Ronaldo as his hero. However, it is another Manchester United FC player, Roy Keane, whom he most resembles. Keane may win headlines for his temper, but he won fame for his energy, his tackling, his vision, his shooting and his not inconsiderable skill. All these qualities are possessed in abundance by Nuri. He also has the same national pride.

Turkish pride
"I learnt my football in Germany but as a Turk, I have never thought of playing for Germany," he said. "[When] Turkey coach Fatih Terim decided to pick me, that really changed my world. I was unable to sleep - I was so excited to be given the chance to play alongside my idols. Scoring a goal in my first game was nice but it is even better to score against Germany." If he is called on again in Wednesday's vital FIFA World Cup qualifier in Albania, he will not let his country down - especially with the prospect of playing in the finals in Germany.

Last updated: 15/04/12 5.30CET

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