Turkey celebrates amputee football team after European title victory
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s amputee football team defeated England 2-1 late on Oct. 10 to become champions of Europe in front of 40,000 spectators at Istanbul’s Vodafone Park.
The national team won in an emotional evening at Besiktaş’s home stadium, scoring the winning goal in injury time to claim the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) championship for a second time.
Turkey led 1-0 at halftime thanks to a goal in the 25th minute by Ömer Güleryüz.
“I could never have even dreamed of playing in such an atmosphere,” Güleryüz said.
The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) had decided to move the match to Vodafone Park.
Although Turkey dominated the match until the final minute, Ray Westbrook managed to draw England level late in the 50th minute of the game. Turkish captain Osman Çakmak then scored two minutes later to give Turkey the title.
Amputee football games are 50 minutes long - two halves of 25 minutes.
“The coach told me before the game that England was undefeated but I said they haven’t played us yet,” said Çakmak, praising his teammates and thanking the crowd for its support.
Çakmak lost his left foot after stepping on a land mine during an anti-terror operation in the southeastern district of Şırnak while performing his military service.
Yaşar Büyükanıt, a former chief of staff, encouraged him to play amputee football during his rehabilitation, Çakmak said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan congratulated the team in a written message after the match, his office said in a statement.
“I wholeheartedly congratulate the amputee national football team, who became Europe champions by defeating England. Turkey is proud of you!” Erdoğan wrote on his Twitter account.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also congratulated coach Ugur Özcan in a phone call and praised the team in a speech on Oct. 10.
“This team showed us that it would clinch the title from the very start of the game,” wrote former Turkey coach Mustafa Denizli in his column in daily Hürriyet.
“Their body language told us before the game that they were really a team with a soul and would win the cup. I know all of them personally and I know that they know no boundaries,” Denizli added.
Fellow Hürriyet columnist Kanat Atkaya, meanwhile, wrote that disabled citizens continue to face dire problems in Turkey.
“We have given them sufferings and they have given us victory. There is nothing left to say,” Atkaya added.