Galatasaray revels in big victory

Galatasaray revels in big victory

Galatasaray revels in big victory

Galatasaray players celebrate the club’s 18th Spor Toto Super League title, equaling archrival Fenerbahçe’s record. Galatasaray celebrated the victory at the Türk Telekom Arena a day after lifting the trophy at Fenerbahçe’s Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. AA photos

Galatasaray is reveling in its 18th national title, after winning the Spor Toto Super League over Fenerbahçe. The Lions celebrated their victory with a sold-out ceremony at the Türk Telekom Arena on May 13, a day after the team held on to a goalless draw at Fenerbahçe. 

Selçuk İnan, a player key to Galatasaray’s success, voiced his happiness about winning his first-ever league title. “This is my first title, and it came in the most beautiful way,” İnan said during the ceremony. İnan was transferred from last season’s runner-up Trabzonspor in the summer of 2011, and became the midfield maestro that Galatasaray has long been looking for. 

On Saturday, Galatasaray accepted the trophy in the darkened Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium about three hours after the final whistle. Galatasaray players, coaches, executives and journalists spent more than three hours inside the stadium before the trophy ceremony, as police tried to disperse angry and devastated Fenerbahçe supporters.

Back-up defender Gökhan Zan referred to the “dark celebration” in his speech at the ceremony. “The lights were turned down at Saracoğlu, but the spirit of 25 million Galatasaray fans brightened it,” Zan said on Sunday. “Galatasaray fans have the power to shed light in the darkness.” 

Winger Sabri Sarıoğlu emphasized that it is important for the team and its fans to celebrate without hurting their rivals. “We are enjoying the title the way we want it to be: without hurting anyone,” Sarıoğlu said.

Forward Necati Ateş, who helped the team’s cause with eight goals after being signed from Medical Park Antalyaspor in January’s mid-season transfer window, said it was a season to remember. “This is a season I will tell my children about,” Ateş said. “I don’t think there will ever be another long season like this one, with the playoffs.”

Galatasaray’s veteran midfielder Ayhan Akman, who is one of the few members remaining from the team’s last title-winning season in 2008, was in a more emotional mood than the others, because this marked his last celebration as a player. “I have told my teammates of my decision to retire from football at the end of the season,” Akman said. “They have told me they would fight for me, too. I will always remember this title.”

Galatasaray will directly qualify in the Champions League next year. The Lions, who have a reputation as Turkey’s top performer in European competitions, have been away from the top-level cup on the continent since the 2006-2007 campaign.