Yunus Akgün

Yunus: How I've Settled In At Leicester

Intimidating atmospheres, with a cacophony of noise and light, Yunus Akgün saw it all as a Galatasaray player, lifting several trophies along the way.

Well known for immensely passionate support in Turkey, there’s a much more serene setting for this Leicester City interview - a few weeks ago in Seagrave - after signing for the Club on loan from the Istanbul giants this summer.

Following a training session out on the grass in north Leicestershire, it’s back indoors for refuelling and recovery before Yunus heads over to greet us for a sit-down inside the King Power Centre, part of the impressive training complex he now calls home.

The challenges he faces here are off the pitch as well as on it. It can’t be easy moving to a new country at the best of times, having to adapt to the differences in culture and climate, let alone one where you must learn a new language and take on board a new concept and idea from the Manager.

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Yunus Akgün

The 23-year-old sat down to reflect on his time with the Foxes so far.

Yunus' grasp of English is improving, though, and we exchange pleasantries upon his arrival. A translator is on hand to ensure there is no confusion. Rewinding back to August, he watched on from Seagrave as Kasey McAteer’s two strikes at Rotherham United secured a dramatic late win for the Foxes the day he joined the Club.

Soon on the pitch himself, making an impression on debut at Tranmere Rovers in the Carabao Cup, the Blue Army were quick to sing his praises. Coming on as a substitute, cries of ‘Yunus, Yunus!’ could be heard from the away end behind the goal, although that’s not what the man himself heard at the time.

“At first, I thought, what are they saying? ‘Yonus, Yonus?’ My name is Yunus,” he recalled, smiling, via a translator. “But then I realised that they were chanting my name, and it was really nice, a great feeling. They are very supportive away and at home and it’s a great motivation for me.

“I believe that it was a great start for me, first of all. The Manager told me about the tactical side, what he wanted me to do very quickly and my team-mates helped me a lot. And we won the game. The other games that I’ve played, I think it’s getting better.”

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Yunus Akgün

Yunus has made 11 appearances for the Club, registering two assists.

A first glimpse of the Turkey international for the Foxes faithful, he did enough to impress during a 25-minute appearance. Often introduced from the bench to see games out, injury has limited his involvement of late.

Still, an army of social media fans back in his homeland ensure he is supported wherever he goes. A stunning goal for his country, which helped Turkey to reach next summer’s UEFA EURO 2024 tournament only aided that.

“We were in such a tough group to be honest,” the former Galatasaray winger explained, speaking about Turkey's qualification. “We got together and did so well managing to qualify. We’re so happy and proud and hoping to do well.

“It was an amazing feeling. Whenever you score for your country, it’s an amazing feeling. After beating Croatia, we knew it was going to be a tough game against Latvia and not just a walkover. So, when I scored and I felt the feelings coming from the supporters, how relived they were, it was so amazing to score. I was proud.

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Yunus Akgün

Born in Istanbul, the winger has won seven senior caps for his national team, scoring twice.

“It’s another source of motivation for me. The supporters have been amazing. As you know, I have spent many years playing for Galatasaray from a very early age and I also played for Adana Demirspor for two years.

“I must have done things right as they still like me and they still support me. It’s also important for a Turkish player coming through the ranks and ending up playing in Europe, like Arda Turan, and there are others from Galatasaray who made it. I’m happy that I’m one of them and it’s important to have their support.”

Back to England and the 23-year-old already feels comfortable in Leicestershire three months into his time here, even if the colder temperatures have taken some getting used to. Things are certainly going well on the pitch, which always helps, and a warm welcome from the squad added to that feeling.

“I wasn’t expecting to settle down this easily and this quickly to be honest because I have some language problems,” Yunus admitted. “I didn’t think it would take such a short time, but everyone has been brilliant, so welcoming. I can say that I have settled quite well.

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Yunus Akgün

All smiles from the Turkey international at LCFC Training Ground.

“The main thing is the weather, to be honest. It’s a lot colder than Turkey but I’m getting used to it. I get on well with everyone, it was quite easy here around the Club and outside I’m getting used to the new rules.

“The more you win, the better the atmosphere becomes, and everyone is happy. Every game we play and we win, we get on well. My friends here are helping me as well. I’m very happy to be here and part of this team.”

And Yunus hasn’t been the only one learning a new language, as he explained with a cheeky grin etched across his face.

“My team-mates, they are brilliant,” he continued. “Sometimes they actually use different Turkish words that I can’t really say here, but they are really funny. They are trying to make it easy for me so that I can get used to the surroundings.

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Yunus Akgün

The attacker is hoping to provide more goal contributions in the coming months.

“I don’t have any issues getting instructions from the coach or the other staff because I’m used to playing with other English-speaking footballers back home. I don’t have any issues on the pitch, as such, it’s for outside of football that I need better English.

“They keep telling me that I’m getting better, though!”

A raw talent approaching his prime, there’s clearly more to come from a player who arrived as a winger but has also been utilised in central positions by Enzo Maresca. Although here on loan, it’s very clear how eager he is to help the team reach their end goal, carrying a desire to become a significant part of the Leicester jigsaw.

Awaiting a first City strike of his own, a duo of goal contributions, including one at Anfield, illustrate his burgeoning potential.  

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Yunus Akgün

It was a dream to play in England and follow in the footsteps of some of his fellow countrymen.

“I always wanted to play in Europe, like many other Turkish players,” City’s No.29 concluded. “I knew a lot about Leicester and I feel privileged to be here, at a club with amazing history and part of this team who won the Premier League before.

“I’m very happy. I came to the UK to play for Leicester believing and hoping and knowing that we will play in the Premier League. I’ve started making assists so hopefully I will be scoring goals very soon. I have goals in mind in terms of how many I would like to score.

“When you do something right on the pitch and you contribute, you believe in yourself more and your confidence grows. My team-mates at the Club are all helping out, they are all amazing.

“My main aim, obviously, is for us to become champions here at Leicester and go up to the Premier League. I will be doing my best to help make that happen.”

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