Galatasaray star Melo joins list of accidental heroes

Galatasaray star Melo joins list of accidental heroes

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray star Melo joins list of accidental heroes

Galatasaray’s Brazilian player Felipe Melo (R) does his ‘pitbull’ celebration after saving the penalty kick by Elazığspor’s Göksu Türkdoğan. The Brazilian player created one of the most memorable scenes in recent Turkish football history by saving the penalty in his rare performance as a goalkeeper. AA photo

Every now and then a good twist spices up the football agenda. Like Felipe Melo being forced to wear teammate Fernando Muslera’s gloves and saving a penalty. Football fans love their accidental heroes.

For Melo, last weekend’s match against Elazığspor was business as usual. He was trying to press the opposing midfield and probably shouldering the extra burden of running the midfield with passes in the absence of playmaker Selçuk İnan. But things dramatically changed after goalkeeper Muslera was sent off and Elazığspor was awarded a penalty kick. With coach Fatih Terim having used all three of his substitutions, a player had to step up and wear the gloves. Melo did that, faced the penalty and amazingly saved Göksu Türkdoğan’s spot-kick. While the ball was steering out of the pitch’s frontiers, Melo had already dropped to his hands and knees, doing his “pitbull” celebration – the one that he does after scoring goals.

Melo was looking so confident that everybody thought that the Brazilian should have had some background between the posts. That was not the case.

“I am playing as a goalkeeper when I am playing football with my kids and that’s it,” he said to the club’s GS TV, in his usually nonchalant manner.

He has spent just a little more than one year with the Lions, but Melo had done lots of things, including goals against rivals Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe, to win Galatasaray fans’ hearts. But there is little doubt that he will always be remembered with that penalty.

‘Panther of Kadıköy’

Daniel Pancu might have an idea about that. The Romanian player spent five years in Turkey, four of which were with Beşiktaş, but he will be forever remembered with what he has done in a legendary 4-3 win over Fenerbahçe in 2005. After Oscar Cordoba was sent off, Pancu had to take over as goalkeeper and then he made several saves, keeping Beşiktaş in the game, so that Koray Avcı can score a stunning last-minute goal to give the Black Eagles an unforgettable victory. The Romanian was a decent midfielder working hard on the pitch and contributing with some goals, but still, he is the “panther of Kadıköy.” The club, too, did its part to have Pancu stuck with that image. The t-shirts of the panther were pressed and sold in the club’s merchandizing stores. The team even took the step of giving Pancu the no. 1 t-shirt next season. Talk about an overeager marketing project.

Former Fenerbahçe ace Tuncay Şanlı, now with Bursaspo, had also the “chance” to take over the gloves in arguably the most stressful moments of Turkish national football history. After Volkan Demirel was sent off after hitting Czech forward Jan Koller in the 2008 European Football Championships, Turkey was left without a goalkeeper – and the coach was again Terim. Luckily for Tuncay, he did not have to face a penalty kick or even a serious Czech attack to begin with, so that it was just a moment of extra edge to a tense game. Not that it lacked some edge though, Turkey had come back from two goals down to get a 3-2 win. Still, an accidental hero was another spice to an unforgettable match.

Servet scores like Messi


Eskişehirspor defender Servet Çetin became an online sensation after scoring an unusually beautiful goal against Trabzonspor in his team’s Super League 3-0 win on Nov. 26.

With a Lionel Messi-like string of skills, the 31-year-old dribbled past three opponents to score. Çetin is usually known for his tough attitude on the pitch and when he scored previously, he usually did so with headers.

The goal was viewed more than 250,000 times after 12 hours on Youtube.

“It is impossible to deny the Mayans, the end of the world is nigh,” read one comment on Twitter in response to the goal, while another said “The oddities of November continue.”

Last week, Fenerbahçe defender Bekir İrtegün scored a beautiful overhead bicycle kick goal against Marseille.