Saved within a hair’s breadth
I started writing this piece the night of Nov. 5, in a Turkish Airlines (THY) plane taking off after the game at 2:00 a.m. Everybody is talking and holding their breath; the only occupation is the singing of songs.
I have a bunch of impressions for you from the game.
I flew to Porto from Istanbul in the morning. I was on Galatasaray President Ünal Aysal’s plane. With other invitees from the executive board, we flew for almost five hours. The journey was filled with a lot of gossip, a lot of guesses and also some napping.
Ünal Aysal’s guess was a win of 2-1. Of course, nobody said anything against that. We were all sure of a win. I was also tweeting my followers and constantly setting the mood. We went first to Porto, then Braga. It is 45 to 50 minutes from the airport.
The front of the hotel was full of supporters. Coach Fatih Terim was confident. Executive board member Abdürrahim Albayrak was filled with joy…
When we entered the stadium, it was 30 minutes to game time and the stands were empty. We were surprised. The game started; you must have seen it also: It was almost half empty. We were chatting among ourselves and also very confident. We joked, “Braga supporters knew they were going to lose; that’s why they didn’t come.” We laughed loudly.
Wow, the first 15 minutes and Galatasaray was falling apart. Beyond falling apart, the team was not running.
And a goal came… Oh, my God… The game was almost lost; we had so many dreams…
At half-time, our faces were as long as fiddles. We were too sorry to say a word. We started dragging through the mud all those names we had praised to the skies up to that moment: “No, this is not possible. What kind of a play is that?”
We touched on each player, administrator and technical manager. We were almost looking for a person to fight. The Braga President looked like a kind man; he did not come near us. We gathered in a corner and picked on each other.
And I was angry at myself, “What was the point in coming here, traveling all that way? I could have watched this disaster at home and wouldn’t have been so exhausted…”
To hell and back
When we noticed that things were going badly, we started calculating. Calculations such as, “If Manchester United wins and we lose, then we can again make the next round…”
It was only Aysal who was not demoralized… He was still saying the game will end 2-1. None of us believed him anymore but again, it sounded nice. Also, the fan group of 300 to 400 people staged an enormous performance. Unbelievable. They did not stop for a moment. It was only their voices heard.
However, even their cheers could not help the team recover in the first half.
At the beginning of the second half, this time, Manchester United started losing…
We were sinking irrevocably.
Then, it was the 50th minute, everything reversed, it was as if another team had arrived.
Funnily, when the score was 2-1, whoever we were criticizing up to that moment we started praising incredibly. We lost ourselves with chants and hugs. On the way back it was only Cimbom songs. While the sun was rising, we landed in Istanbul. I was so happy, I even said, “I’m glad I went…” Smiling faces, enthusiastic people…
The football fan is like that. One moment it smashes the team, the next moment carries it on their shoulders…