Best Turkish Players in the Premier League History

As a nation, Turkey rarely enjoys success at the major tournaments, but they do produce some seriously talented players. Many have been employed by top European clubs, while a significant proportion have appeared in the English Premier League.

But who are the best Turks to have played in the EPL? Let’s study the list to find out.

Best Turkish Players in the EPL

Muzzy Izzet

A midfielder who was on the books of three English clubs, Muzzy Izzet will mostly be remembered for his time with Leicester City. He was on schoolboy terms with Chelsea, but transferred to Leicester in 1996, and spent the next eight years with the club.

His time at Filbert Street produced success, and Izzet won the League Cup twice while with Leicester City. He transferred to Birmingham City in 2004 before finishing his playing career in non-league football.

Although born in England, Muzzy Izzet qualified for Turkey through his heritage, and made nine senior appearances for the Turkish national side.

Tugay Kerimoglu

Tugay Kerimoglu was another Turkish footballer to give excellent service to the Premier League. After beginning his career with Galatasaray, he joined Glasgow Rangers in 1999, before switching to Blackburn Rovers two years later.

Tugay was a direct midfielder, who provided assists and scored useful goals of his own. He spent eight years at Ewood Park before retiring from the game, and he helped his side win the EFL Cup in 2002.

Tugay Kerimoglu played 293 goals for Blackburn in all competitions, scoring 13 goals.

Şifo Mehmet & Tugay Kerimoğlu & Sergen Yalçın – Beşiktaş vs Galatasaray, 22 May 1993

Caglar Soyuncu

A reliable centre half who can also play on the left side of defence, Caglar Soyuncu joined Leicester City from SC Freiburg in 2018. After Harry Maguire left the Foxes for Manchester United, the club had a significant gap to fill, and Soyuncu was up to the task.

The Turkish international became first choice at Leicester, and he helped his team to win the FA Cup and the Community Shield in 2021. Unfortunately, Caglar Soyuncu couldn’t prevent Leicester City’s relegation in 2023, and he subsequently joined Atletico Madrid.

Caglar Soyuncu
Caglar Soyuncu

Alpay Özalan

With 90 caps for his country, Alpay Ozalan was one of the most experienced and reliable Turkish internationals of all time. His stay in the Premier League was a brief one, but he left his mark on the division.

Alpay joined Aston Villa from Siirt S.K. in 2000 and spent the next three years in England. His progress was halted by injury in 2002, and a fall out with manager Graham Taylor restricted his appearances. Villa fans saw flashes of his best form before Alpay Ozalan was sold to South Korean side Incheon United in 2003.

Tuncay Sanli

An attacking midfielder who could also be pushed up to take on the centre forward’s role. Tuncay Sanli played for three Premier League clubs. He initially joined Middlesbrough from Fenerbahce in 2007, immediately becoming a first choice.

After Middlesbrough were relegated in 2009, Tuncay joined Stoke City, and he also played on loan in the EPL for Bolton Wanderers. He was a great servant at all his English clubs, and Tuncay Sanli was one of the most underrated Turkish players to feature in the Premier League.

Emre Belözoglu

A midfielder who earned over 100 caps for his country, Emre Belözoglu played in the English Premier League for Newcastle United. This was a big-money signing from Inter Milan in 2005, and Emre brought flair and skill to St James’s Park.

He was a versatile player who could cover most areas of the midfield, and Emre Belözoglu spent three seasons with Newcastle, playing in 82 games and scoring six goals.

Colin Kazim-Richards

Colin Kazim-Richards is another player who was born in England, and qualified to play for Turkey through his heritage. He went on to make 37 appearances for the Turkish national team, scoring two goals.

Kazim-Richards was a forward player, who scored important goals, but his scoring ratio wasn’t quite enough to attract the biggest clubs. He played for five English teams, and his one season in the Premier League came with Sheffield United in 2006/07.

Gökhan Zan & Colin Kazım Richards
Gökhan Zan & Colin Kazım Richards

Kerim Frei

Winger Kerim Frei made his professional debut for Fulham and has so far played for three clubs in English football. His only experience of the English Premier League came with Fulham between 2011 and 2013, and he made his debut for Turkey while playing with the Cottagers.

Frei has since moved on, but his experience in England gave him a good grounding in the game.

Final Thoughts

Turkey’s best players have experienced mixed levels of success in the Premier League. Some have won domestic cups, while others didn’t land the silverware that their talents deserved.

None of the names on this list are playing in England currently. They have either retired, or moved elsewhere, so which Turkish players will be under the radar of EPL clubs moving forward?