Turkey's Cengiz Ünder on making it with Roma

Cengiz Ünder talks about his first 18 months at Roma, the language barrier and making it in the UEFA Champions League.

Cengiz Ünder wants to be a UEFA Champions League winner one day
Cengiz Ünder wants to be a UEFA Champions League winner one day ©AFP/Getty Images

"We have made it to the round of 16 and will play Porto on Tuesday. It will be a difficult game and we will do our best to win. I hope we can beat them and match or even surpass the success we had last year. We want to reach the quarter-finals; we showed that we could do this last year by reaching the semi-finals and knocking out Barcelona. We can also do the same this year."

Current tally
International: 10 appearances, 4 goals
UEFA club competition: 15 appearances, 4 goals
European domestic competition: 141 appearances, 30 goals

2005 final highlights: Liverpool 3-3 Milan (3-2 pens)
2005 final highlights: Liverpool 3-3 Milan (3-2 pens)

"Every footballer's dream is to play in the Champions League. As a child, I could only watch the first halves of the games shown at 21:45 in Turkey; I would have to go to bed before the second half. The most memorable game for me was the 2005 Liverpool v AC Milan final that ended 3-3 and then went to penalties. It was a very big match that was played in Istanbul.

"Before I came here [in the summer of 2017] I was in pre-season with Başakşehir in Slovenia. I was waiting for some news from my agent during the night and could not sleep after I had received it. I had to return to Istanbul in the morning to pack my bags and fly out to Rome. I was extremely nervous. One of my biggest dreams was to play in one of Europe's biggest teams and I was able to turn this into a reality by signing for Roma.

"When I first arrived, the team were on tour in the United States and I stayed in Rome because I didn't have a visa. I was going to have my first training session and [sporting director] Monchi asked me to come into the changing room. When I arrived, Francesco Totti was there, and I felt very nervous. We took a picture and I when I got back home I put that picture up on social media. He is every footballer's idol, including mine.

"I wish we could have played together. He is a player that fans would go to games to watch. Totti is always part of the team, it is great to see him. He always speaks to me and has a great relationship with everyone. He smiles when he sees me and calls me a goalscorer. That's really nice.

Cengiz Ünder has settled in Rome after a shaky start
Cengiz Ünder has settled in Rome after a shaky start©Getty Images

"When I first came to the Serie A, I really struggled. After the initial six months, I started to slowly understand [the language] a bit more but it still isn't great. When I first arrived, I wouldn't understand the things [coach Eusebio Di Francesco] would say. He would come up to me and show me what he wanted from me. This allowed me to slowly start to understand the system of the team. I would always do what he showed me to do; I continue to perform in the way he wants me to.

"I feel very proud to be at one of the biggest clubs in Europe. I have the whole of Turkey behind me and I will continue to be successful with their continued support. Right now I am 21, and I am happy to have made it to the semi-finals in my first year of Champions League football. I am still young and I believe we will achieve great things in the future and I hope to be able to lift the Champions League trophy one day."

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