Cengiz Ünder

Cengiz Ünder

An enterprising winger with an eye for extraordinary goals, Cengiz Ünder joined the Foxes on loan from A.S. Roma in September 2020.
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Born in Sındırgı – the home of a famous carpet festival – Ünder moved to the stunning metropolitan city of İzmir as a youngster to play for Bucaspor and then Altınordu at youth team level, before also representing the latter at senior level, scoring 11 goals in one season.

It was at Altınordu where a youthful Cengiz first crossed paths, as a teenager, with Çağlar Söyüncü – a close friend, international team-mate and new Leicester City colleague.

As their friendship grew, so too did their potential and, while Söyüncü headed to German outfit SC Freiburg, Ünder remained in his homeland, joining İstanbul Başakşehir in 2016.

Despite not yet in his 20s, Ünder quickly become one of the main protagonists of a Başakşehir side which very nearly pulled off one of the biggest fairy tales in Turkish football history.

In 2016/17, they drew comparisons with Leicester City in 2015/16, as they challenged Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray for the Turkish title.

A campaign which coincided with Ünder’s emergence on the international scene for the Crescent-Stars ended with the exciting winger netting nine goals for club and country.

Agonisingly for Başakşehir, Beşiktaş pipped them to the title, but a second-placed finish in the Süper Lig nonetheless qualified them for the UEFA Champions League – and set the foundations for their eventual title win in 2019/20.

Ünder’s performances, though, had alerted some of Europe’s platinum clubs and a switch to Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma quickly materialised for the enterprising Turkish winger.

At the turn of the year during his maiden campaign with I Giallorossi, Cengiz’s potential truly came to the fore as he netted a flurry of eight goals between February and May – including an effort on his Champions League debut at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Round of 16 stage.

Ünder and his team-mates also completed a magnificent 3-0 victory over Barcelona in the quarter-finals, to overturn a 4-1 first-leg defeat on away goals, before losing a last-four epic with Liverpool 7–6 on aggregate, narrowly missing out on facing Real Madrid in the final.

In 2018, meanwhile, Ünder’s exceptional emergence resulted in him scooping Turkey’s Footballer of the Year award, previously won by the likes of Hakan Şükür and Rüştü Reçber.

Over recent seasons, much of Ünder’s landmark moments have come in the famous red and white of Turkey, helping his country qualify alongside world champions France for EURO 2020.

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