80 CAPS 22 GOALS
European Championships: 1 (EURO 2008)
Best Stage Reached: SEMI-FINALS
Tournament Appearances: 4
Tournament Goals: 0
A former Turkey captain, Tuncay Sanli burst onto the scene at the 2003 Confederations Cup before finishing his international career as their second highest ever goalscorer behind Hakan Suker.
Starting his career with hometown club Sakaryaspor, two prolific seasons with them earned the then-20 year old a move to Turkish giants Fenerbache in 2002 the same summer Turkey surprised many by finishing third at the World Cup behind Brazil and Germany.
Handed an international debut as a late substitute against Italy in November 2002, the versatile forward would have to wait until the following summer’s Confederations Cup for his next call-up.
Having impressed in his first season with Fenerbache, Tuncay was handed his first start for Turkey in their opening match against the United States, shining as he scored one goal and set up the other in a 2-1 win.
On the scoresheet again in Turkey’s semi-final defeat to reigning European champions France and third-place playoff victory over Colombia, his efforts saw him recognised as the tournament’s second best player and second leading goalscorer as he picked up the Silver Ball and Silver Shoe awards.
However, he was unable to help Turkey qualify for Euro 2004 later that year as they suffered a shock play-off defeat to Latvia.
A Turkish Super Lig winner with Fenerbache in 2003/04 after netting 22 goals in all competitions, Tuncay also grabbed the headlines the following year as he became the only the second player to score a Champions League hat-trick against Manchester United in the revised competition’s history.
Picking up his second Turkish Super Lig winner’s medal in 2004/05, there was to be more international heartache for the forward as Turkey failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
Despite Tuncay scoring his first international hat-trick in the second leg, it was not enough for Turkey as they suffered another play-off defeat, losing on away goals to Switzerland.
Moving to Middlesbrough in 2007 after winning his third Turkish Super Lig title, the forward was on the scoresheet three times in Euro 2008 qualification as Turkey qualified automatically for the finals in Austria and Switzerland.
An ever-present in the group-stages, Turkey opened their tournament with a 2-0 defeat to Portugal, before clinching a last-minute 2-1 win over co-hosts Switzerland in their second outing.
Facing off against Czech Republic in their final group game, Turkey found themselves 2-0 down shortly after the hour-mark and looked set to suffer an early exit.
However, Turkey fought back to clinch an unlikely late 3-2 victory, Arda Turan halving the deficit in the 75th minute before Nihat scored a quick-fire brace in the final five minutes.
Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel threw a spanner in the works as he was sent off in stoppage-time, with Tuncay stepping in between the sticks for the game’s closing moments, but the Turks held on to progress in the competition.
There was even more late drama in their quarter-final clash with Croatia as former Wanderers striker Ivan Klasnic opened the scoring in the 119th minute to leave Turkey again staring down the barrel of defeat.
However, Semih Senturk managed to net in stoppage time with the Turks eventually winning 3-1 on penalties.
Tuncay was forced to sit out Turkey’s semi-final meeting with Germany because of suspension as their luck finally ran out, falling to a last-minute 3-2 defeat despite taking a first-half lead and netting yet another seemingly decisive late goal.
Moving on to Stoke City in August 2009 after Middlesbrough’s relegation to the Championship, he missed out on qualifying for the 2010 World Cup before winning his last international cap against Azerbaijan in October 2010.
Signing for VfL Wolfsburg in January 2011 after a disappointing 18 months at the Britannia Stadium, Tuncay returned to England when he joined Bolton Wanderers on loan in August 2011.
Scoring on his Whites debut against Macclesfield Town, it proved to be his only goal during his time at the Reebok Stadium as he was unable to help Bolton avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Released from his Wolfsburg contract that summer, Tuncay returned to Turkey with Bursaspor, while he has most recently enjoyed stints in Qatar and India with Umm Salal and Pune City respectively.