Football in Turkey is a sport that attract people of all ages. Beginning with games played in back alleys, this journey continues with professional clubs for some and playing football matches with friends in leisure time for others, but no one completely leaves it behind. Boys always want to be football players when they grow up and most of them receive their favorite player’s uniform on their birthdays.

Turkey’s passion for football takes an exciting turn after Turkey’s nomination to host the 2024 European Football Championship. With the motto “Let us share together,” Turkey puts forth an assertive nomination with 10 stadiums in 9 cities and Nike shares this enthusiasm by designing the uniforms for Turkey national football team.

Nike’s relationship with football dates back nearly half a century, to 1971 when the brand released its football studs, the first model to feature the “Swoosh” logo. Having experienced a quick rise in the world of football since then, Nike has been preferred by many players from Ronaldo to Brandi Chastain, Wayne Rooney to Cristiano Ronaldo. Sponsoring giant football clubs like Barcelona FC and Manchester City, Nike made an influence with its series Mercurial Superfly and Vapor 360.

Mercurial, which we first saw on Ronaldo during the training session for the 1997 FIFA World Cup in France, blends aesthetics and comfort with its monochromic and minimal design. The street culture of football that inspired the model overlaps with Turkey’s love for the sport.

The brand’s support for Turkish football is not limited to the uniforms of the national team and continues with young and bright athletes. This month, we feature six national team players sponsored by Nike; meet Ece Türkoğlu, Abdülkadir Ömür, Ecem Cumert, Ömer Faruk Beyaz, Mustafa Kapı and Didem Karagenç.

ABDÜLKADİR ÖMÜR

A player in Trabzon A Takım, Abdülkadir Ömür is 19 years old. He started football with the school team and was discovered by Trabzonspor trainers. In 2011, he received his first license. He made it to the finals and became fourth with Turkey’s U-14 team in the 2012-13 season. In 2014-15, he experienced victory with Turkey’s U-16 team. On July 20, 2015, he signed a professional agreement. In November 2015, he was launched as the “young talent of the week” by UEFA. In January 2016, he played his first official game with Trabzonspor. In the following season, he played in U-21 with Trabzonspor and continued training with A Takım led by Ersun Yanal. In 2016, he became the only Turkish football player in the Guardian’s 60 of the best young talents in world football born in 1999.

ECE TÜRKOĞLU

“Passion, challenge and team spirit.”

These are the three words Ece Türkoğlu chooses to describe football. The 19-year-old player graduated from Karadeniz Ereğli Science High School in 2017. She began playing football in 2010. Until her transfer to Ataşehir Belediyespor, she had played with the municipality football team of her hometown in Ereğli. A player in the national football team, Ece wants to pursue her academic and football career abroad. “I believe that as long as I play football, I’ll have a positive force in my life,” she says and suggests young athletes to “become good individuals before becoming a good athlete” because she believes you reflect your personality to the game in the field. She recommends being patient, never giving up and being aware of one’s own talent. Among her role models are Carli Lloyd from the U.S. and Ebru Topçu from Turkey.

ECEM CUMERT

“A good team means family; everyone is for each other.”

Born and raised in Ehingen, Baden-Württemberg, Ecem is 20 years old. After finishing high school in Germany, the young athlete played with SC Freiburg. Last year in September, she transferred to Ataşehir Belediyespor and also plays in Turkey National Football Team. Her interest in football begins at a young age due to her family’s passion for the sport. “I’d play football on the street, at home or in the garden every day with my brother and our neighbors’ kid.” Her parents enrolled her in a football club when she was five or six. She first played as the goalkeeper but then switched to the midfield. Later on, she played in various teams including the German national team. After U-17, she transferred to Turkey national team. When we ask her about the qualities of a good team, “A good team means family; everyone is for each other.”

ÖMER FARUK BEYAZ

“My biggest dream is to be the first Turkish football player to win the Ballon d’Or prize.”

14-year-old Ömer Faruk Beyaz was born to a family passionate about football. Growing up as a fan of Fenerbahçe, Ömer played his first game in the football field in the housing complex they lived in. Enrolled in Fenerbahçe Football School at the age of five, Ömer was chosen for the youth setup at the age of eight. “Fenerbahçe has always had a special place for me,” says Ömer. “I had my firsts with this team such as playing in the league, assisting, scoring, winning, and attending tournaments and camps in Turkey and abroad.” Currently, he studies at Fenerbahçe College. Formerly the team captain of U-15, the young talent is currently a part of the U-17 team. He believes that “playing good is not enough” to be a good team captain and adds that “you also have to unite the team.” When we ask him about his favorite players, he says he’s been a big fan of Ronaldinho from a very young age along with his admiration for Nike. In time, he’s become an avid fan of Messi as well. “I’ve watched his games over and over again and still am. The more I learn from Messi, the better I become.” He also adds two other football legends he admires: Emre Belözoğlu and Alex. His biggest dream is to be the first Turkish football player to win the Ballon d’Or prize.”

DİDEM KARAGENÇ

National team captain and Beşiktaş A Takım’s defense player, Didem Karagenç was born in 1993. Having received her football license with Sakarya Yenikent Güneşspor in 2004, the bright talent played with this team until 2007. Having transferred to Gazi University, Didem played in 70 games and scored 32 goals in six seasons. She wore the uniform for the UEFA Women’s Championship League for the first time in 2013. Having blazed a trail in Turkey, she also played at the 2013-14 UEFA Women’s Championship League with Konak Belediyespor in August 2013. The team proceeded to the last 16. For three seasons, she played in the Championship League. On October 14, 2015, she transferred to Beşiktaş which made it to the second league. At the end of the 2015-16 season, the team made it to the first league without losing any matches. Since 2011, she played with the national team for 35 times and is currently the team captain.

MUSTAFA KAPI

Born in 2002, Mustafa Kapı received his first professional license with Denizlispor in 2013 and transferred to Galatasaray next year. On October 8, 2016, he played in the practice match between Galatasaray A Takım and Levski Sofia, writing his name in the history of the team as its youngest player. In 2017, he continued as the captain of Galatasaray’s U-17 team and scored wonderful goals. He scored 15 goals and made 17 assists in 24 games. Playing the number 10 in the midfield and center midfield, he’s currently in the U-19 team.