Hakan Calhanoglu has developed into a key player for Bayer 04 Leverkusen in recent seasons. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Koepsel
Hakan Calhanoglu has developed into a key player for Bayer 04 Leverkusen in recent seasons. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Koepsel
Bundesliga

Calhanoglu ready to spring more surprises at EURO 2016

For most footballers there is no single moment that marks their progression from talented hopeful to established professional - but Hakan Calhanoglu is not like most players.

His breakthrough dates back to Matchday 22 of the 2013/14 season. Playing for Hamburger SV at the time, at the start of the day - 22 February 2014 - there was no indication that something special would occur. Quite the opposite, in fact: the rain was sleeting down, HSV were second bottom of the table, head coach Bert van Marwijk had just been sacked and none other than title-chasing Borussia Dortmund were the opponents for new boss Mirko Slomka's first game in charge.

Nevertheless, Hamburg went 2-0 up and were easing their way towards a priceless victory when they were awarded a stoppage-time free-kick in the centre-circle, 41 metres from goal. Normally, most teams would play a short ball to the nearest team-mate in order to run the clock down – but not Calhanoglu. Instead, the midfielder hammered the ball goalwards, hitting it with such vicious dip and swerve that it caught BVB goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller off guard and flew into the top corner.

Check out Calhanoglu's rocket against BVB in the video below

Born for the big stage

Calhanoglu is now equally at ease in Europe's premier club competition. In 2015/16, he scored two goals and provided five assists for Leverkusen in the Champions League and only failed to have a hand in a goal in one game. He is, then, clearly suited to the big stage.

He will get another chance to demonstrate his ability at EURO 2016 in France, where he will represent Turkey. After an impressive qualifying campaign, in which they finished above the Netherlands, now Calhanoglu, Nuri Sahin, Yunus Malli and Co. go into a tough Group D alongside Spain, Czech Republic and Croatia.

"We're facing opponents of the highest quality but we'll give it our all," Calhanoglu said. "Although we're certainly not the favourites, we definitely want to reach the next round. Maybe there'll be a surprise in the group stage." That would not be out of character for Calhanoglu - just ask Roman Weidenfeller...

- © gettyimages / Alex Grimm
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