Who is Tiago Cukur? Doncaster Rovers' Turkish loan striker from Watford

It’s been a rocky start for the young Watford loanee Tiago Cukur, but he is growing every game.

By Jimmy Johnson
Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 9:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 11:45 am

Cukur is a talented young man with bags of potential. A hard working centre-forward with great ball control, the Turkish under-21s international will almost certainly enjoy a fruitful career in professional football. However, he is far from the finished product at this stage.

Let’s take a closer look at this promising prospect and his short career so far.

Early Career

Cukur began his footballing journey in The Netherlands, where he was born. He trained with clubs such as Zeeburgia and Feyenoord, before moving to AZ Alkmaar in 2016. He featured heavily for their under-17s team, scoring eleven goals in 27 appearances. When his contract with AZ expired, he was snapped up six months later by Watford, in January of 2021.

At Watford, Cukur was given limited time to showcase his talents. However, he did not allow this to get in his way. For the Hornets’ under-18s team, he scored three goals in two games, using his large frame to bully defenders and work himself into goal scoring positions.

Despite this, Watford’s manager Xisco had no plans to feature Cukur in the first team for the 2021/22 season. As a result, on July 19th, 2021, Cukur was loaned out to Doncaster Rovers on a season-long basis.

Cukur At Doncaster

Picture Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD, Football, SkyBet; League One; Sheffield Wednesday v Doncaster Rovers; 14/8/2021 3.00pm;Hillsborough; Howard Roe 07973739229; Doncaster's Tiago Cukur has a shot at goal

Cukur’s arrival at Doncaster attracted a lot of intrigue from both Rovers and Watford fans alike. However, he was hit with an immediate roadblock in the form of a positive COVID-19 test.

Due to this, in terms of fitness, he had a lot of catching up to do in pre-season. The lack of a full pre-season has clearly affected him, slowing him down and stifling his physical presence.

It’s been a tough start to life at the Keepmoat for the 18-year-old. Brought in to play as a backup striker, due to an injury crisis and Omar Bogle falling out of favour, he has found himself starting every league game so far this season. Fejiri Okenabirihie, Jon Taylor and Jordy Hiwula are all injured, leaving Rovers struggling for options in the attacking third.

Cukur has yet to score a goal for Doncaster in five appearances and often finds himself struggling to make an impact. It seems apparent that he is not yet at full fitness – Rovers fans may have to wait before seeing the best of him.

Cukur’s International Career

Despite being born in Amsterdam and spending most of his fledgling career in The Netherlands, Cukur has chosen to represent Turkey internationally. As he has yet to feature for their first team, he could switch allegiance back to The Netherlands if he chooses to do so.

He has made three appearances for Turkey’s youth teams – twice for their under-17s and once for their under-21s. So far, he has yet to score a goal for his country in a competitive fixture.

Though his time as an international player has been short, his transfer to Watford and subsequent loan move to Doncaster will give him a great opportunity to prove himself to Turkey’s coaches.