Yilmaz: The U-20 World Cup is a stepping stone
© LOC

Turkey international Burak Yilmaz is enjoying a fine 2012/13. The Galatasaray striker has helped fire his team into the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, and his seven-goal tally is just one short of the elite competition’s leading scorer: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. In the Spor Toto Super Lig, meanwhile, Yilmaz is the joint top marksman with 14 strikes, level with Nigerian front-man Kalu Uche of Kasimpasa.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Gala’s President Unal Aysal cites Yilmaz as his club’s current main man, even drawing comparisons between the clinical sharpshooter and Atletico Madrid’s much-coveted goalgetter Falcao. “Burak is a player who’s very valuable to us,” Aysal told Turkish daily Sabah. “And, if they say Falcao’s worth €55 million, then my player is worth 40.”

With the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 a matter of months away, FIFA.com sought out the views of a player spearheading a Turkish side struggling to revive their hopes of reaching the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. A veteran of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands in 2005, Yilmaz is certainly perfectly placed to say just how much it means to the young starlets involved.

FIFA.com: Turkey are set to host this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. What do you expect from the tournament?
Burak Yilmaz:
I think we’re talking about a very important competition. The future stars of world football will be here in Turkey, so we should all make the most of this opportunity to watch and admire these extraordinary players.

You yourself took part in a FIFA U-20 World Cup, in the Netherlands in 2005. How big a boost did the competition give your career?
For me, the U-20 World Cup was a fantastic experience. It’s the most important world championship, except for the senior World Cup. Taking part in that tournament helped me a lot, because it helped me understand what I had to do, and how and when to do it, if I wanted to achieve my footballing objectives.

What does it mean to young players to represent their country on the international scene?
For those involved, it’s a magnificent opportunity to show the world what they’re capable of. The U-20 World Cup is a stepping stone for the future.

What kind of an impression do you think the Turkey squad will make this summer on home soil?
I’m sure that, with the backing of our enthusiastic supporters, we’ll play some great football.

How much importance is placed on football in Turkey?
For Turkish people, football really means a lot. They’re very keen on this sport and it’s something that’s part of the fabric of everyday life.