The former striker, scorer of a famous goal in 2002, hopes to represent his country at the Sochi Winter Games next year after impressing on the ice on a Turkish reality TV show
The 37-year-old, who was forced to retire from football after being hit by a car in 2007, first showed an aptitude for the sport when he was part of the victorious pairing in Turkish reality TV show Buzda Dans - the nation's equivalent of British series Dancing on Ice.
Ilhan and partner Olga Bestandigova are now training for a spot at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014, and the former Besiktas forward is excited at the prospect of making yet more sporting history after scoring a famous Golden Goal for Turkey in the quarter-finals of World Cup 2002 against Senegal.
"I would be the first athlete to compete in the World Cup and the Winter Olympics," he was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "I had never even watched skating before I stepped on the ice for the first time when I was 32."
Ilhan and Bestandigova swept the nation off their feet as their relationship blossomed en route to their television title, and he man admits he would never have considered such a career move were it not for his partner.
"It was Oli during the show who saw my potential," he said. "I always wanted to start a second sporting career after football but I never thought in my dreams it would be pairs skating.
"We are not expecting to get a medal but to be a part of the Olympics will mean much more than winning. It is also about encouraging people that no matter what, at any age, you can reach your dreams by believing and working hard."
Ilhan became a Turkish footballing icon when he struck an extra-time winner against Senegal in the 2002 World Cup, before going on to score twice in the third place playoff against co-hosts South Korea. He also memorably bamboozled Brazil's Roberto Carlos in the semi-final defeat with a superb flick over the full-back's head.
He was forced to cut his footballing career short after his knee was severely damaged when he was hit by a car at a pedestrian crossing five years later, but he will have another chance to cement himself in Turkish sporting folklore at the Winter Games next year.
That, however, depends on the pair's performance at a qualifying event in September, so he will need to get his skates on to be ready ...