Turkey out to show piece of magic
AA photoTurks are not regulars at major football tournaments, but when they go, they make sure to be remembered.
Eight year after being crowned “Comeback Kings” in Switzerland and Austria on the road to a semifinal spot, Turkey begins its campaign in France with a Group D game against Croatia.
Croatia is no stranger to Turkey’s determination, which is also reflected in the team’s Euro 2016 slogan: “Biz bitti demeden bitmez” (It’s not over until we say so).
The team needed a final-minute free-kick goal Selçuk İnan against Iceland in the last game of its qualifying campaign to become the best third-placed team and avoid a playoff clash.
In 2008, after beating Switzerland and the Czech Republic with goals that came in the final five minutes, a Semih Şentürk goal in injury time of extra time secured a penalty shoot-out against Croatia in the quarterfinals.
Croatia’s coach, Slaven Bilic, who coached Istanbul club Beşiktaş between 2013 and 2015, insisted the goal was scored after the game had ended and that it would “haunt me for the rest of my life.” Turkey won the shootout and set up a semifinal clash with Germany.
Another miracle looked to be in the pipelines when Turkey equalized in the 86th minute against Germany, but the Germans had the last laugh when captain Philipp Lahm got the winner three minutes later.
At a time in which the country is struggling against an unprecedented wave of terror attacks, Turkey’s Euro 2016 campaign may give citizens something to cheer about and unite behind, and coach Fatih Terim is aware of it.
“Our country is one where fathers and mothers should happily go to work every morning, where children happily go to school. Where everyone wants to wake up with the light and the sun,” Terim recently said. “We all need to work for this. I want a Turkey where everyone is together and where everyone is united against terror.”
In a three-decade managerial career, Terim has become a colossus in Turkish football, earning himself the nickname “İmparator” (Emperor).
“I hope that we can repeat and even build on our success from 2008. The fact that Turkey is even playing in France is a success story,” he said. “We want to play in the final.”
Blessed with stars including Arda Turan of Barcelona, Turkey will be a tough opponent but must also emerge from a tricky group also including the Czech Republic and Spain.
“I would say that we are in a serious group. It’s a quality group,” said Terim.
Terim’s squad for the tournament mixes both young talent and experience.
Turan will be a key in his plans, and he can always rely on 22-year-old Hakan Çalhanoğlu of Bayer Leverkusen. Known for his deadly free kicks, Çalhanoğlu will be closely followed by scouts from the biggest clubs in Europe.
Emre Mor, a 19-year-old who has lived all his life in Denmark and only received Turkish citizenship last year after receiving authorization from his jailed father, has become one of the great hopes for Turkey in just a few weeks’ time.
Mor’s reputation grew again last week when Borussia Dortmund signed him from Danish side Nordsjaelland.
Mor had appeared for Denmark’s youth side but switched his allegiance this year following intervention by Terim.
He made a single appearance for Turkey under-21s before making his full debut in a friendly against Montenegro, thrilling Turkish fans with quicksilver runs down the wing and virtuoso passing.
“The reason that Emre is here is that he is a player who is out of the ordinary,” Terim said.