Turkey have contested the FIFA World Cup™ finals twice to date, although fully 48 years passed between their maiden appearance at Switzerland 1954, and their second shot at the world crown at the 2002 edition in Korea/Japan.
Turkey came agonisingly close to a berth at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, but lost out to the Swiss on away goals after the sides drew 4-4 on aggregate in the play-offs. Turkey also qualified for the 1950 finals in Brazil, but declined to take part for financial reasons.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Turkey’s debut on the world stage at the 1954 FIFA World Cup ended in a 4-1 defeat to eventual world champions Germany, but just three days later, the team coached by Italian import Alessandro Puppo strolled to a 7-0 victory over Korea Republic. Under the rules of the tournament at the time, that entailed a play-off against the Germans, which the Turks lost 7-2 and departed for home.
Their second tilt at the FIFA World Cup also opened with defeat to the eventual winners, as Turkey fell 2-1 to Brazil at Korea/Japan 2002. Their second group match finished in an unpromising 1-1 draw with Costa Rica, giving little hint of the fireworks to come. A 3-0 victory over China PR and a helping hand from the Brazilians saw the Turks through to the last sixteen, where they beat joint hosts Japan 1-0. The same score was enough to overcome Senegal in the last eight, albeit after extra-time. Semi-final opponents Brazil proved too strong, again by the only goal of the game, but a 3-2 victory over the other joint hosts, Korea Republic, meant Turkey claimed an outstanding third place at the end.
The current crop
After missing out on successive FIFA World Cup finals in 2006 and 2010, Turkey are determined to be part of Brazil 2014. Hopes rest largely on shaping a new generation into a team capable of holding their own among the world elite. In August 2013 coach Abdullah Avci was replaced by the legendary Fatih Terim for his third stint at the national team helm.
The key players
Arda Turan is expected by many observers to become the lynchpin of the new Turkey side. The Galatasaray midfielder, who was born on 30 January 1987, is a fixture in the creative department alongside Emre Belozoglu. German born and bred players also bring important qualities to the team: experience in the case of Hamit Altintop, who joined Real Madrid from Bayern Munich in summer 2011, and raw talent via Nuri Sahin, also recruited by Real but from Dortmund, and Bremen starlet Mehmet Ekici.
Coach: Fatih Terim
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002 (Third place), FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2005 (Fourth place), FIFA Confederations Cup France 2003 (Third place)
Former stars: Hakan Sukur, Rustu Recber, Bulent Korkmaz