Turkish Football News

Small Turkish club producing tomorrow’s stars

Small Turkish club Altinordu FK producing tomorrow's stars

Altinordu FK have produced some of the most promising talent Europe has seen, including Cengiz Under and Caglar Soyuncu.

Playing in Turkey’s second division, Altinordu FK continues to develop young Turkish talent that make headlines worldwide. Building a unique model in Turkish football, the club invests heavily on training young Turkish players and profits in the long run through their sales.

Their latest product, 22-year-old midfielder Alican Ozfesli started his professional career with the club’s U-17 team. He is the fifth Altinordu player to move to top-flight clubs in the past two seasons.

Ozfesli signed a deal with the current Super Lig leader Istanbul Basaksehir last week.

“This is something to be proud of” says club chairman Seyit Mehmet Ozkan, who is credited with turning Altinordu into a footballer factory. Ozfesli has signed a four-and-a-half year, €700,000 contract with Basaksehir.

The small club was also home to AS Roma’s wonderkid Cengiz Under and Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu. Ozkan said both players are the “representatives” of Altinordu’s mission to contribute more to Turkish football. Along with Under and Soyuncu, the club was the launch pad for young goalkeeper Berke Ozer, who moved to Fenerbahce at the beginning of the season and Barus Alici, who moved to top-tier Malatyaspor on loan from Fenerbahce after the Super Lig side signed him from Altinordu.

Soyuncu playing for Leicester City.

So far at least 50 Altinordu players have represented Turkey in football since 2012.

“It shows that we are on the right path,” Ozkan told Anadolu Agency. “We always say that Turkey is a fertile land for footballers. You only need to trust these children.”

The club has not just filled their coffers from transfer fees; they reinvest a major portion of the fees back into training more players and building new facilities. A clause in transfer deals for outgoing players mandates that the second club the player is transferred to also pays a fraction of the fee involved to Altinordu, boosting their profits even further.

Young defender Soyuncu brought in around €2.5 million for them with his move to Freiburg, and his subsequent transfer to Leicester City brought in about €5.3 million. The same is true for Turkish wonderkid Cengiz Under. His transfers to Basaksehir and eventually Roma brought in more than €4.5 million for Altinordu.

The club’s ambitious plans.

Founded in 1923, the second division club is often described as an exemplary football club by the Turkish sports media for their heavy emphasis on youth development and world-class training facilities, a feature often lacking or underdeveloped at major Turkish clubs.

Having spent decades in the upper leagues of Turkish football, the Izmir club was relegated to the amateur leagues in the early 1990s, where they have remained for a decade, losing their fan base to fellow Izmir clubs Altay, Goztepe and Karsiyaka.

Starting in 2003, the club started to climb the ladders again with a special emphasis on development, transferring dozens of players and investing in their facilities in the process.

In an earlier interview with the British daily, The Guardian, Ozkan said that their target is to have a completely homegrown side competing in Europe by 2023-24, export their players abroad and work to benefit the Turkish national football team.

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