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Okan Buruk



Okan Burak
Only now is Buruk beginning to live up to the colossal reputation he developed as a teenager.

He was the cornerstone of the Turkish side that won the European under-18 title in 1992 where his raw brilliance and stocky build brought heady comparisons with Maradona.

He quickly became Gala's playmaker - helping them to the 1992/93 title - and in October 1992 he won his first cap in a qualifier for USA 94 in San Marino.

But that was to be his last international outing for nearly six years.

In February 1993 he broke his leg while playing in a Turkish Cup semi-final and although he returned a year later the early brilliance had diminished.

For the next three seasons, he was no more than a bit-player at Gala and it was not until the championship-winning campaign of 1997/98 that his form began to return.

Former Turkish coach Fatih Terim took over and moved Buruk from the centre of midfield to the right where his crosses provided the perfect ammunition for Hakan Sukur.

A recall to the national side followed - a friendly against Russia in April 1998.

He helped Gala to the double last season, his reputation as a sublime deliverer into the box growing ever stronger.

Surprisingly good in the air given his stocky build, he is also capable of grabbing the odd goal himself.



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