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Fenerbahçe starlet Salih flying high

Fenerbahçe SK's teenage midfielder Salih Uçan is showing he is ready for the top level, saying: "I don't think age is important on the pitch. It doesn't matter if you're 19 or 39."

Salih Uçan (centre) in UEFA Europa League action against Viktoria Plzeň
Salih Uçan (centre) in UEFA Europa League action against Viktoria Plzeň ©AFP/Getty Images

Two goals in Sunday's 2-0 Turkish Super League win at Orduspor have drawn more attention to Fenerbahçe SK midfielder Salih Uçan, with the UEFA Europa League helping the 19-year-old fulfil his considerable potential.

A €1.5m summer signing from second-division Bucaspor, Salih struck his first domestic brace to further intensify attention on the Yellow Canaries' high-flier – who later insisted it was not all about personal acclaim. "Scoring two goals is important but winning is even more vital," he said. "I don't believe age is an important factor on the pitch. It doesn't matter if you're 19 or 39."

A powerful, controlling presence in midfield, Salih has not wilted under the spotlight since making his UEFA club competition debut against FC BATE Borisov in this season's round of 32. He opened the second-leg scoring against last-16 opponents FC Viktoria Plzeň to smooth Fenerbahçe's passage to the quarter-finals – where last week he appeared as a substitute to help spark a 2-0 first-leg victory over S.S. Lazio in Istanbul. "I think the second leg against Lazio won't be too difficult because we have a significant advantage from the first," he said.

Having captained his country at Under-19 level, Salih is expected to be one of Turkey's star men as they host the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer, with his vision and skill marking him out as one to watch. His double against struggling Orduspor last weekend was certainly easy on the eye, and Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman made it clear in his post-match comments that he holds the teenager in high esteem.

"I am not surprised by Salih's performance because he is a talented player," he said of the youngster, who has featured in seven Super League and four UEFA Europa League games this term. "There's nothing I can do for him, besides telling him the truth about football and coaching him properly. I wish him the best of luck and success in his career. He is a very valuable player for us."

Now challenging Brazilian midfielder Cristian for a place in the Fenerbahçe lineup, he will look to assist his side's three-fronted battle for silverware – in Turkish league and cup plus the UEFA Europa League. Uçan literally means 'a person who flies' in Turkish; a fitting name for a player whose career is starting to hit the heights.