In 1981 Rod Stewart was spot on when he thought his song ‘Young Turks’ would become a hit one day. Fast forward 37 years and enter Cengiz Ünder, the 20-year-old Turkish boy who recently stole the hearts of all Giallorossi worldwide. His powerful strike on Sunday not only gave Roma the much-needed and vital three points (their first win in eight games) and reduced the difference with Inter and Lazio, he also proved why he’s one of his countries hottest prodigies. Perhaps even in Europe.
Roughly 800 years after Ghenghis Khan, it seems another ‘Cengiz’ is ready to invade Europe. Well, this time in a slightly friendlier way though, by pleasing the crowd with amazing dribbles and goals. Eusebio wasn’t a big fan at the start, Cengiz played very few games, often as a sub past the 80’ mark. When he did start, it was against lower sides like SPAL or Crotone at home. But since 2 weeks Cengiz has been an ever present in Roma’s side, starting in all three games since January 24. In all of them Eusebio subbed him off after 70 minutes or so, but that’s mainly to protect him and not exhaust or overload him. When he’s on the pitch he always gives 100% because he’s so eager to prove himself. He still needs to evenly arrange his energy.
Ünder provides something different than other players at Roma. He’s no Perotti, Gerson, Schick or Defrel and he sure as hell ain’t Dzeko. SES might be a better comparison but Cengiz feels far better on the wing than any of them. His goal had a bit of Robben flair to it. He’s not that tall or top-heavy, but he’s agile and quick, and really, a winger doesn’t need to be 185 cm or weigh 90 kilo (that’s 6 feet and 198 lbs for the Americans). He needs to dance around defenders, be smart and choose his moments. His goal showed Cengiz has a pretty hard shot as well.
Now, before we start to compare Cengiz to other great Roman wingers/wizards like Lamela, Mancini, Taddei or Pit ‘pronounced Piz’, let’s just calm down. Yes, he’s talented as hell. Yes, he’ll be sold to Manchester City in 2019 for top dollars. But expecting him to repeat his Hellas performance every week until May would be foolish. He’s in seventh heaven after his first goal at Roma and there will likely come more of them this season. But please, take it one step at a time and let’s not pretend we have the next Messi or Ronaldo in our hands. Mind you, look how Salih Ucan, that other Turkish talent, turned out. Wikipedia says he’s playing for Swiss club Sion now, auwtch. No my dear readers, leave it all to Eusebio.
You see, DiFra has a knack for nurturing talents, just look at his Sassuolo side. Especially attacking talents like Berardi, Politano, Ricci and Sansone. Ünder could be his next masterpiece. Compared to the earlier mentioned players, Cengiz even seems on a different level. A raw diamond. He already has 7 international caps in which he scored three goals. He actually already had his breakout season in 2016-2017, not even 20 and he amassed 32 games, scoring seven goals in the Turkish Süper Lig. His club Basaksehir ended second in the league, their best ever season, thanks to a teen. That’s damn impressive.
Right now he’s on a roll in Rome and luckily for Ünder the calendar in Serie A looks promising. Next up is last-placed Benevento and then Udinese. There’s no reason for EDF to drop Ünder now. The real tasks begins after that, with Shaktar, Milan and Napoli in the space of ten days. Whether he’ll still be starting or not is irrelevant for now. At the age of 20 he’s just at the beginning of hopefully a long and fruitful career. How long he’ll stay at Roma is his choice. And that of Monchi and co of course but if Cengiz really exploits all his talent, then I see a lot of opportunities for this young Turk.
To end in a fitting way, here’s another song from 1981, this time by German band Tenpole Tudor. "Wunderbar! Wunderbar, wuuuuuunderbaaaaar!"