Arda Güler's Real Madrid debut was a major event in his native country
Seven months after joining Real Madrid, Arda Güler finally made his debut on Saturday, catching the eye in Los Blancos’ Copa win over Arandina.
The 18-year-old Turk, who has been dogged by injury since moving to Spain, offered up glimpses of his talent as Madrid won 3-1.
And, back in Güler’s native country, the forward’s involvement in the cup tie meant all eyes were on an otherwise less-than-box office fixture.
The game attracted more TV viewers in Turkey than any other nation outside Spain. Indeed, it outperformed the day’s Turkish league fixtures.
On social media, Turkish soccer fans were quick to take aim at any player - in a Madrid or Arandina shirt - who crossed their teenaged idol.
Güler’s Madrid colleague Dani Ceballos became a trending topic in Turkey after arguing with the youngster over free-kick-taking duties.
Turkish internet users also began to target Nico Paz, amid claims that the Madrid youth product was refusing to pass to Güler.
Such was the opprobrium aimed at Paz that Güler had to come to his defence, posing for selfie with a player he described as “my brother”.
Güler is Turkish soccer’s great white hope, as the country’s national team bids to end a years-long period of major-tournament underachievement.
Güler is the fourth Turk to play for Real Madrid, after Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop and his boyhood hero, Mesut Özil.