The Cengiz Under story
The corner of Cengiz Under to Kostas Manola's head in the game against Barcelona for the Champions League showed that nothing is random in football. It was a moment of inspiration and it just happened.
Kostas Manolas entered the pantheon of the Roma heroes. The Champions League history book writes his own name. A goal that left Barcelona out of the Champions League. One of the biggest surprises and reversals in the history of the tournament.
However, the Greek defender didn't score on his own. Someone's got it all, someone marked his head. The assist from Cengiz Under showed that cooperation in football is a key factor.
Early days at Altinordu
On the 2008-09 season, Cengiz Under was a 12-year-old boy. He left his homeland, the town of Sindirgi (somewhere in the depths of the Asian part of Turkey) to live his dream in Izmir and the academies of Altinordu.
The first thing you learn there isn't football. The Altinordu academy doesn't look like any other in the world. Because what they teach first there is self-sufficiency. Children's day doesn't start with warming up, stretching and hanging on a court. But by watering, feeding animals and harvesting.
The main motto of the academy says that "Football isn't just football". Children aged 14-19 learn first about life and then for football.
They stay on a farm with goats, sheep, hens, and cows. They have to take care of feeding animals, milking them and caring for them.
In addition, there is agricultural work. The children of the Altinordu academies cultivate their own raw materials for their feeding. Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, potatoes are some of the products produced by them.
Everything is done with absolute discipline. Children first learn to become people, to respect and appreciate all the goods that are provided to them.
The dream of Seyit Mehmet Ozkan, the chairman of the club, is a team consisting only of players from the club's academies. Such as Athletic Bilbao.
At present, they are the team with the lowest average age in Turkey (21,5 years old). They fight for promotion to the first division.
From his transfer to Basaksehir, Altinordu became richer by 4.5 million euros. And imagine that we talk for a child. 6 years ago was in the queue for food at the Altinordu training ground canteen.
He refused offers from the big Turkish teams to finally sign for Basaksehir just for 600.000 euros. But with a contract that included guaranteed participation time.
Roma's director of football Monchi discovered him and signed him for 15 million.
His life at Rome
Cengiz Under had some difficult times there. As he admitted later, it was a culture shock for him. He felt loneliness due to the fact that he speaks only Turkish.
The language difficulties made him like disconnected from the team and he was unable to justify the million euros that his transfer cost. A crazy amount for a child who had only one season at his feet.
But 2018 was like a magic wand touched the 20-year-old Turk winger. As usual, Roma helps new players settle in, so Under got a personal translator. He scored 6 goals in Roma's last 10 games, including the golden goal in Donetsk, which helped Roma to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals.
He is now the youngest Turkish player ever to have scored in the Champions League.