Renowned as one of the most prolific strikers in the world during his prime, Hakan Şükür spent most of his career with Turkish giants Galatasaray. Over 13 seasons in three different spells with the club, he scored 217 goals in 392 games, helping them claim 8 Süper Lig titles. He’s also Turkey’s top goalscorer of all time, with 51 goals in 112 appearances. He’s best remembered for his heading ability and composure in front of goal.
Having started his career in the local Sakaryaspor at the age of 17, Şükür was quick to impress his peers and the media. In his first senior season, he established himself as the club’s best striker, leading them to their first-ever Turkish Cup title. After a three-year spell with Sakaryaspor, he moved to Bursaspor, where he continued his streak of good performances. As a result, he was called up to the Turkish national team in 1992.
That same year, Şükür signed his first contract with the team that he would spend most of his playing career in: Galatasaray SK. It was clearly a match made in heaven, as Şükür went on to score 19 goals in his first season, helping Galatasaray win the domestic double. He added 35 goals over the following two seasons, earning himself a transfer to Torino. However, he failed to adapt to the Serie A, notching a single goal in just five appearances.
Following this short excursion, Şükür returned to Galatasaray dismayed and discouraged. Nonetheless, it didn’t take him too long to regain his confidence and scoring form. In his first season back, he scored 16 league goals and helped Galatasaray win another Cup. Still, that was only a prelude for what was to come. From 1997 to 1999, Şükür led the league in goals scored on three separate occasions, with Galatasaray winning a title all three times.
During his final season in his second stint with the club, Şükür led the team to another domestic double. More importantly, he played a key role in Galatasaray becoming the first Turkish team to win a major UEFA competition: the 1999/00 UEFA Cup. With a strong team featuring Şükür, Gheorghe Hagi, and Emre Belözoğlu, Galatasaray defeated Mallorca, Leeds United, and Arsenal to claim the trophy.
By that point, Şükür was Turkey’s best offensive weapon as well. At the Euro 2000, he helped the team advance from its group by scoring a brace in the deciding match against Belgium. At the 2002 World Cup, he played in all seven matches as Turkey finished in third place. During the final match against South Korea, Şükür made history by scoring 10.8 seconds into the game, which remains the fastest goal in the history of the competition.
Following his second stint with Galatasaray, Şükür decided to try his hand in Italy again. From 2000 to 2002, he played for Inter, notching 5 goals in 24 games. The biggest reason for his lack of playing time was the rest of the club’s offensive line, which included stars such as Ronaldo and Christian Vieri. He left the club in 2002 and played the rest of the season for Parma, where he scored 3 goals in 15 appearances.
After an injury-plagued season with Blackburn Rovers, Şükür returned to Galatasaray for the third and final time. Even in the twilight of his career, he was still productive on the pitch, helping the club claim two additional Süper Lig titles and one Turkish Cup. He retired at the age of 37 as Galatasaray’s best-ever goalscorer. In 2003, the Turkish Football Federation selected him as their most outstanding player of the last 50 years.