Where to start loving the national squad?

Where to start loving the national squad?

Our national football squad played its first game on Oct. 26, 1923, exactly three days before the republic was declared. That team’s coach was Ali Sami Yen, who was the founder of the Galatasaray football team. The captain of the team was a legendary player from Fenerbahçe, Hasan Kamil. 

They played against Romania and this historic match ended 2-2. I’m not just saying it was “historic;” it was really historic. The scorer for the national team was the brother of the captain, Zeki Rıza from Fenerbahçe. 

This match was played at Taksim Stadium, the former artillery barracks where the Gezi Park incidents started as a protest against plans to build a shopping mall there. I am wondering if these legendary players wearing the national uniform ever bargained for a bonus. 

Is such a thing possible? I am sure there was no bonus at that time. The uniforms were hand washed by the players themselves, so what bonus are you talking about?    

For instance the nicknamed “baron” Fevzi, did he ever witness his fellow players raid the room of another player and draw guns? 

It was a time when players from rivals Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray lived together in the same house; it was the era when their friendship built Turkish football. 

The nickname “aslan” (lion) for Galatasaray came from player “lion” Nihat Asım (Bekdik). I wonder if that lion yelled back at journalists at the end of the game when they criticized him. Did he shout at them, for instance, saying “Shall I learn how to be a man from you?” If he had such a character, would he be a “lion” and a legend? 

Our founding fathers of football had one thing on their minds: To properly represent the liberated country that was being re-built. 

When we look at what is happening today, what is being talked about, the language used and the details that are covered by the press, our faces go red in shame. 

I know this a new sort of smokeless industry because of the money involved; I know how “professional” it has become. 

In the nearly one century that has passed, I know football has become a sector after saying farewell to the love of the uniform and sportsmanship. 

I know this is the era when a player, after rejecting a club’s offer, told reporters, “You know we are not only doing this as a hobby.”  

But this is the national team in question here. It really does not matter who is right and who is wrong. The entire picture is meaningless. What do we have now? There are those who do not like 150,000-euro bonuses, who find 500,000 euros inadequate and who have fights after 650,000 euros are distributed. 

In the top league, the football is awful; in the lower leagues, jungle rules are in force. This is a football world totally dependent on the discovery of individual talents. 

The hubris, the spoilt attitudes and the language used can only be compared with a mafia-themed TV series… Instead of pride, the whole structure is under the shadow of ugly struggles that are brought to the agenda of the country, which is already busy with unresolved issues. 

If Ali Sami, Hasan Kâmil, Baron Fevzi, Lion Nihat, Zeki Rıza, İsmet, Nedim, Cafer and Bedri Bey were to see this picture, they would hardly know where to start losing their belief and where to start feeling shame.
And then they ask why the national team is not liked? 

Well, it is because we can’t figure out where to start loving it.