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Cim Bom faces woes after grabbing a historic treble

HDN | 5/19/2000 12:00:00 AM |

Coach Terim may not renew his contract with Galatasaray and this leads to renewed speculation about whether this great team can be kept together. Barring a last-minute change of heart, Hagi is either going to retire or take a lucrative contract in Japan, or possibly the US. Popescu may hang up his boots, too Michael Severn Ankara - Turkish Daily News Seconds after Gheorghe Popescu's penalty hit the back of the net, rockets exploded in the night sky and fusillades of gunfire were heard all over Turkey

  • Coach Terim may not renew his contract with Galatasaray and this leads to renewed speculation about whether this great team can be kept together. Barring a last-minute change of heart, Hagi is either going to retire or take a lucrative contract in Japan, or possibly the US. Popescu may hang up his boots, too
  • Michael Severn

    Ankara - Turkish Daily News

    Seconds after Gheorghe Popescu's penalty hit the back of the net, rockets exploded in the night sky and fusillades of gunfire were heard all over Turkey as a nationwide victory party began.

    While the Galatasaray joy is unconfined, it is not untinged with sorrow. Immediately after the game, coach Fatih Terim told several journalists that he may not renew his contract with the club. "We've won the UEFA Cup," he said. "Somebody else can win the Champions League." He refused to answer questions about where he might be going.

    This leads to renewed speculation about whether this great team can be kept together. Barring a last-minute change of heart, Hagi is either going to retire or take a lucrative contract in Japan or possibly the United States. Popescu may hang up his boots, too. The rest of the players feel a strong personal loyalty towards Terim and they will now look more warmly on offers from outside Turkey.

    Among those we know to have received such offers are Emre, Hakan Sukur, Umit, Arif Erdem, Fatih Akyel (who did not play in Copenhagen) and Brazilian defender Carlos Alberto Capone. The UEFA Cup final is a shop window with coaches and club chairmen all over Europe looking through it and others who did well may also now come into the transfer reckoning. One factor in Terim's decision to go is the club's financial problems which, according to Hakan Sukur, have left the Turkish players unpaid for eight months.

    There is no doubt that if big money offers come in and players want to leave, the board will be tempted to sell. Good as it is, this team has not yet reached its full potential, but it may now break up without ever doing so. A sad thought to end on. Also, unfortunately, a realistic one.

    Rewriting the record books

    The Galatasaray soccer team had made history by becoming the first ever Turkish side to capture the UEFA Cup. In the process it also completed a unique treble, having already won the Turkish Cup and the Turkish League championship.

    "Tonight I die," wrote Taki Dogan in sports daily Fotomac (May 18), using a line from a popular song to complain of the heart-stopping tension in the Parken Stadium, Copenhagen. Dramatic it certainly was.

    In normal time, the Galatasaray players largely did what we predicted Terim would expect of them. They chased and harried Arsenal's expensively assembled collection of "superstars" and reduced them to the status of mere mortals. With Hakan Sukur, scorer of 11 goals in Europe this season, well policed by the Arsenal defense, few chances were created at either end.

    But then came the first heart-stopping moment. Three minutes into extra time veteran Gheorghe Hagi behaved like a 17-year-old novice, getting himself stupidly sent off for lashing out at Arsenal captain Tony Adams. Twenty-seven minutes still to go and Galatasaray down to 10 men. Could it survive? It did, thanks to magnificent saves by Brazilian keeper Claudio Taffarel from Thierry Henry and sub Nwankwo Kanu.

    And so we came to the penalty shootout. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was furious afterwards with Spanish referee Antonio Lopez Nieto for allowing this to take place at the goal behind which the Galatasaray fans were massed. UEFA stated that the toss for ends during the extra time period also governed the choice of end for the penalties. "I can't agree with that," Wenger said. "The referee may be saying that now, but I don't believe it and I think it was unfair." Fair or not, while Ergun Pembe, Hakan Sukur and Umit Davala all fired home for Galatasaray, Davor Suker and Patrick Vieira both saw their shots blocked by the woodwork and it was left to Popescu to apply the finishing touch. Taki Dogan's heart still goes on and so did the party -- all the way to morning.

    Heroes of the night

    Taffarel won the UEFA "man of the match award" and 10,000 euros for those two outstanding extra time saves and another in the first half from Marc Overmars, the one Gunner Galatasaray did not manage to shut down during the opening 45 minutes. He has promised to donate the money to a charity aiding homeless children. But there were other heroes, and let's take a look at some of them:

    Popescu: Cruising around at the back like a great white shark and biting where necessary, the Romanian defender did more than anybody else to turn Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp from menaces to mice until the Hagi dismissal. He has been considering retirement. On the evidence of this performance, he has at least one good season left in him.

    Okan Burak: Okan shrugged off the effects of a broken toe which had threatened to keep him out of the game and left him short of training. This was the old Okan, Okan the everywhere man. He fizzed and buzzed in midfield, breaking up Arsenal attacks before they started and tirelessly probing for openings for his front men.

    Bulent Korkmaz: In the first half of extra time, captain Bulent injured a shoulder and should not have continued. But with Hagi gone and all three substitutes used, that would have meant nine men against 11. The club doctor did a hasty job of strapping him up and he threw himself back into the fray. For that act of heroism alone, he deserves his place in history as the first Turk to lift a European trophy.

    Ergun Pembe: The first penalty in a shootout can be critical. If it is missed, this gives heart to the opposition and the jitters to a player's team mates. If Emre Belozoglu had not been suspended, Ergun probably would not have played in Copenhagen and he is not a regular penalty taker. But when Terim handed him the responsibility of that first shot, he responded as though he has been scoring from the spot all his life.

    m-severn@apexmail.com

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