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UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Turkey

We kick off our look at the history and pedigree of all 24 UEFA EURO 2020 teams by putting Group A contenders Turkey under the microscope.

Turkey enjoyed a memorable UEFA EURO 2008
Turkey enjoyed a memorable UEFA EURO 2008

EURO pedigree

Previous final tournaments: 4
EURO best: semi-finals (2008)

Turkey's EURO finals history began only a quarter of a century ago, but the Crescent-Stars have left a strong impression since – particularly at UEFA EURO 2008, where they made a thrilling run to the semi-finals thanks to late goals and a never-say-die approach. With a new generation of players based at major European clubs, they now hope to erase the disappointment of their group stage exit at EURO 2016.

Key players

All of Turkey's EURO 2020 qualifying goals

Merih Demiral (19 caps, 0 goals)
Turkey kept clean sheets in all their home qualifiers for EURO 2020 and the Juventus centre-back was a key reason for that, with his determination, ambition and courage helping inspire the so-called 'Turkish wall'. Strong in the air courtesy of his height, the 22-year-old also boasts skilful feet and mobility.

Cengiz Ünder (26 caps, 8 goals)
On target in the 2-0 win against France during the European Qualifiers, the Leicester City winger missed much of the campaign through injury – and his pace and technique were greatly missed. Yet he remains a real creative presence and will be hungry to shine at the finals.

Memorable EURO goals

• Nihat Kahveci's 89th-minute strike against Czech Republic at EURO 2008 completed an extraordinary comeback as Turkey roused from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and reach the knockout phase.

EURO 2008 highlights: Turkey oust Croatia on penalties

• Turkey looked to be heading for the exit when Ivan Klasnić gave Croatia a 1-0 lead in the 119th minute of their EURO 2008 quarter-final, only for Semih Şentürk to drill high into the net at the other end – and give his side the chance to eventually prevail on penalties.

Memorable moments

• Turkey's first ever EURO win was a 2-0 defeat of Belgium in 2000 which also secured their maiden qualification for the knockout rounds.

• Along with the late goals, Turkey's incredible fightback against the Czechs in 2008 was notable too for midfielder Tuncay Şanlı taking the gloves and finishing the game in goal following Volkan Demirel's added-time dismissal.

• Rüştü Reçber was buried under a heap of team-mates after diving left to deny Croatia's Mladen Petrić during the EURO 2008 quarter-final, his shoot-out save taking Turkey through to the last four and sending an entire nation into raptures.


Watch Nihat's dramatic 2008 late Turkey double

Most final tournament appearances
9: Rüştü Reçber
8: Hakan Balta
7: Alpay Özalan, Arif Erdem, Hakan Şükür, Mehmet Topal, Ogün Temizkanoğlu

Most final tournament goals
3: Semih Şentürk
2: Arda Turan, Hakan Şükür, Nihat Kahveci

Killer stat: Six of the eight goals Turkey scored at EURO 2008 came on or after 75 minutes.

Did you know?

• Turkey and Spain were the only teams at EURO '96 with not a single player based at an overseas club.

• The EURO 2008 match between Switzerland and Turkey was played under such heavy rainfall at Basel's St. Jakob-Park that the pitch had to be replaced before the quarter-final.

• Hamit Altıntop delivered all three assists in Turkey's 3-2 triumph over the Czechs in 2008.

UEFA.tv: Hamit Altıntop EURO masterclass