Born in Antalya in July 1985, he is the son of former Turkish Super Lig goalkeeper Fikret Yilmaz. Like his father, he had a passion for the game; but unlike him, the younger Burak Yilmaz was much more eager about scoring goals. He wished to become a goal-scorer and chased his dreams.

Having made his breakthrough with local side Antalyaspor as a 16-year-old, Yilmaz spent most of the last decade in Turkish football and a couple of seasons with Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.

One of only nine players to have played for each of Turkey’s Big Three of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, and Besiktas, Yilmaz is also his nation’s second-highest goal-scorer with his 27 strikes from 64 caps leaving only Hakan Sukur, who bagged 51 in 112 games, ahead of him.

Yilmaz is strongly built and his height of six-feet-and-two-inches helps him to penetrate the strongest of defence. Like Cristiano Ronaldo; Yilmaz is a fitness freak and even at the age of 35, he is quick and mobile. When the matter is about scoring goals, Yilmaz is like a fox in the box and last night the Netherlands experienced it at Istanbul.

The FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the UEFA kicked-off last night and under the captaincy of Yilmaz, the Turks stunned the Dutch in an astonishing manner.

Yilmaz set the tone within fourteen minutes of the match.

The opening goal came at the end of a counter-attack with Yilmaz’s shot from the edge of the area taking a deflection off Matthijs de Ligt to beat goalkeeper Tim Krul, who had been pressed into service after Dutch first choice Jasper Cillessen was injured in the warm-up.

Donyell Malen then gave away a penalty with a clumsy challenge on Okay Yokuslu that Yilmaz converted with an emphatic strike.

Hakan Calhanoglu added the third 30 seconds into the second half with a speculative effort from outside the penalty area that deceived Krul.

The Ataturk Olympic Stadium is the venue of that fairytale comeback of Liverpool against AC Milan in that eventful UEFA Champions League Final in 2005 and when Klaassen and Frankie de Jong scored after an hour, it seemed that the Dutch might repeat that night of 2005.

Klaassen’s goal was a touch of individual brilliance as he brought down a cross from Memphis Depay with a subtle touch, simultaneously turning two defenders to slam home from close range. De Jong swooped onto a dipping cross to get a touch for the second.

But Yilmaz ensured that the Turkish delight would enlighten the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.

He dashed the Dutch hopes by a scorching free-kick nine minutes from full-time that restored Turkey’s two-goal advantage.

The Dutch were awarded a penalty three minutes into stoppage time after tugging by Ozan Kabak on De Ligt but Depay’s effort was saved by Ugurcan Cakir to complete a miserable night for the visitors.

Yilmaz has been around in a Turkey shirt for more than a decade.

In 2006, Yılmaz made his international debut for Turkey under coach Fatih Terim in a 1–1 away draw with Azerbaijan in a friendly match. Five years later, he scored his first goal in a 1–1 away draw with Belgium during the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying. Later on, he was part of the Turkey squad in the UEFA Euro 2016.

But in world football, Turkey has lost a lot of the firepower that they possessed way back in 2002.


Still, players like Yilmaz always dreamed of bagging something big at the international level, and the hat-trick against the Oranje last night would mean a lot for the old warhorse.

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