Yusuf Yazici, Burak Yilmaz, Lille
Ligue 1 Show

Focus: Turkish trio delighting Lille

Publish on 09/05/2021 at 08:59

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This season, when Lille are in action, television audiences in Turkey soar. The football-mad nation is captivated by les Dogues' title challenge, currently being inspired by three Turkish players in Burak Yilmaz, Zeki Celik and Yusuf Yazici.

Over the past three years, Lille have signed five Turkish players, including the aforementioned trio for the first team squad.

 

Celik set the ball rolling. The right-back was playing in the Turkish second division when he moved to France in 2018, and he has since become one of the best full-backs in the league, as well as tying down a regular spot in the Turkish national team.

 

"I don't know how to explain it," he told the Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "I've just settled in so perfectly; it's been like a dream. I received a great welcome here and I can tell you I feel very lucky."

 

The warm reception Celik received from the local Turkish community has helped. It is estimated that around 15,000 people of Turkish origin live in northern France, and they have been delighted to open their doors, quite literally, to the Lille defender.

 

"It's a big source of support for me, because they know I'm a long way from home," he explained. "They often invite me to their homes for a traditional meal. I'm welcome every single day."

 

Watch: Highlights of Lille's recent 3-2 win over Lyon

 

 

Celik's success gave Lille the appetite for more. The following year, highly-rated playmaker Yazici joined from Trabzonspor for a then club record. The 24-year-old has had a fine season, contributing 14 goals and five assists in all competitions, notably setting up Lille's crucial winner away to Olympique Lyonnais in Round 34.

 

As impressive as Celik and Yazici have been, Yilmaz has arguably made the biggest impression, and in the shortest time. With two goals as LOSC beat Derby du Nord rivals RC Lens 3-0 on Friday, the striker helped his side take a major step towards a first Ligue 1 Uber Eats title since 2011.

 

"The club did very well to sign these guys," Yilmaz said of his compatriots. "They feel at home here, and I can understand why."

 

The 35-year-old Yilmaz is nicknamed "Kral", the Turkish word for King. Scorer of 187 goals in the Turkish Super Lig, and 135 so far in the French top flight, Yilmaz has been a brilliant addition. His ratio of a goal every 126 minutes is the best ever for a Turkish player in France.

 

"He's a real goalscorer," said his coach, Christophe Galtier. "We have plenty of young, technical, pacy players around him. He's often well positioned and he's very cool in front of goal."

 

No French side has ever had as many Turks in their ranks as Lille this season. If they can guide them to the title at the end of the campaign, it really will be Turkish delight in Lille.

 

>> REPORT: Yilmaz fire Lille past Lens and towards title

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