“Away game” – the SPOX column: Burak Yilmaz – hero at 35

Burak Yilmaz is on the verge of becoming champions in France with the Lille OSC – ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Co. The greatest success for the 35-year-old Yilmaz, however, is the affection he is given in France. A love that he wasn’t always allowed to feel.

There are a few rules that you have to follow to get attention on social media. The content must of course be exciting, of course. The content must be presented well, also clearly. And timing is also important. The most important rule, however, is to establish a connection to the Turkish community and the likes will fly to you.

Even large associations like FIFA or UEFA have long since smelled the roast and regularly publish content related to Turkey. FIFA recently voted for the most important derby in the world. It was not surprising that the Istanbul derby between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce won. And never in history did FIFA count so many interactions in a survey.

At OSC Lille they recently even employed a Turkish-speaking employee in the social media department. But that has less to do with the fact that Lille is so keen on Turkish reach. Rather, it’s a necessity. The French club are close to the Ligue 1 championship and one of the reasons for the boom is Burak Yilmaz.

The 35-year-old Turkish striker has scored 15 goals in 26 league games this season. Lilles’ social media department no longer deals with other topics; Yilmaz is now celebrated so often and intensely. When Lille last won 3-0 in Lens, Yilmaz scored a dream goal and even made it into global social media trends.

Burak Yilmaz near Lille: are they even building a memorial for him?

It may be due to the extremely high level of self-confidence that Yilmaz repeatedly expressed. Turkey is a football-mad country with every step and every syllable being weighed on the gold scales. Many professionals prefer to play the good boy next door, who expresses himself as few topics as possible and offers no target.

It was always different with Yilmaz. He handed out if need be. He never avoided confrontations with the extremely critical media and fans. The mere fact that he is the only footballer in history, alongside Sergen Yalcin, who played for Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor, proves what a thick skin this man must have.

Jean Tigana, who once worked for Besiktas in Turkey and then became aware of Yilmaz, says: “He was playing underclass when I saw him for the first time. His confidence and determination were amazing at this intensity.” Back then, Besiktas beat the competition and brought in Yilmaz. “Tigana was like a father to me. He believed in me and has always shown it.”

But Tigana, who never had to go to the doctor to complain about a lack of self-confidence, was often alone in his support for Yilmaz, who was very talented, but rarely showed it at a high level. He was quickly reduced to his appearance. He’s more concerned with his good looks than shining on the pitch. And when does he actually get his jersey dirty?

The superficiality haunted him forever, until at some point Yilmaz simply shaved off the head of hair completely and ended the subject forever. Even Christoph Daum, once Yilmaz’s coach at Fenerbahce, was infected. “I would have liked to work with him, but I was told that he was difficult to lead,” said Daum at the time. When Daum has to list his favorite players from the Süper Lig today, the name Burak Yilmaz comes up every time.

Connoisseurs say that it would not be surprising if Yilmaz breaks down his tents in Lille after winning the championship and returns to Turkey. To play for the love of the fans one last time. Whatever he does – he won’t regret it.

Burak Yilmaz: To play for the love of the fans one last time

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