FEATURE: Cengiz Ünder – The Ündertaker
Okay maybe not ‘the’ Undertaker, but there’s no doubt the Roma starlet has been making rival defenses Rest In Peace.
The 20-year-old has been tearing it up as of late with four goals and an assist in his last three games for the Giallorossi. It was a tough start to 2018 for Roma, but the Turkish Delight (okay okay, I’ll stop with the puns.. for now) has helped turn their fortunes around after seven matches without a win.
Born in Sindirgi, Turkey, Ünder started his senior career at Altinordu after being apart of their academy for two years. After two years of developing his game in the Turkish second division, he earned a move to Süper Lig side Başakşehir. In his debut season at the club, Ünder established himself as one to watch after scoring seven times and assisting five in 32 matches. After his first, and only, season at Başakşehir, Cengiz Ünder found out that all roads do in fact lead to Rome.
Ünder joined Roma in the summer transfer window in a deal that left many Romanisti scratching their heads. The Turk for the most part was unknown, but the hopes that he’d be a stroke of genius by Monchi kept fans optimistic.
However, it would take some time for the Turkish international to repay their faith. To start the season, Ünder was restricted to substitute appearances and the occasional start. The games in which he got his largest amount of play time were against relegation sides, and even then he put in mediocre performances. But, the breakthrough would eventually come for the promising winger.
Roma were on a seven game winless run and something needed to change. In comes Cengiz Ünder. The 20 year old saw his minutes skyrocket as Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco needed a spark to get the team going, and Ünder did just that. After playing well in both league matches against Sampdoria (their previous meeting getting postponed due to weather), the Romanisti’s patience was rewarded. Ünder scored his first goal for the club against Hellas Verona in a match where his goal was the deciding factor. After his attempted cross into the box, he won the ball back, cut to his left foot, and rifled it into the bottom right corner from 20 yards out.
It didn’t stop there, though. The Thünder from Down Ünder (would you look at that I had another one in me) put in his best performance of the season in a 5-2 home win against Benevento.
The Romans went down early on as Benevento new boy Guilherme gave Le Streghe a surprise lead, but Federico Fazio managed to equalize for the hosts. After that, Cengiz took over. Following a great assist in which he left Andrea Costa in the dust to cross the ball into the incoming Erin Dzeko, Ünder got on the scoresheet again with two beautiful goals. The first a one time finish into the bottom left corner from around the penalty marker, and the second also coming from his left foot and into the same corner. He received the ball on the right side of the box, cut in on his left, and put the game to bed.
After Roma’s 2-0 win over Udinese, a match in which Ünder scored a beautiful goal, the young right winger received high praise from his manager.
“He has this great quality of being able to line up his shot while still hiding it, just like Montella used to do.”
The left-footer excels at creating space for himself to either get a shot off or create an opportunity for his teammates. It’s no doubt that Di Francesco’s switch to a 4-2-3-1 has brought the best out of Ünder, and it should be no question that we will see him make his Champions League debut soon.
Cengiz Ünder has quickly become a fan favorite at Roma and he’s given the club’s supporters something too look forward to as they’re essentially out of the title race. Whether Ünder can continue his red-hot form is yet to be seen, but he certainly looks poised to do so.