|Major Honours||2002 FIFA World Cup Third Place, 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup Third Place|
The Turkey national football team, nicknamed 'The Crescent-Stars' is an accomplished side which tends to trouble the world’s best sides in head-to-head fixtures.
In 2002, Turkey stunned the world by finishing third in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
They have since enjoyed sporadic spells of success against more illustrious opponents. In 2008, they had a successful European Championship campaign, exiting the Euros in Austria and Switzerland at the semi-final stage.
Formation and Early Years
Turkey played their first international in 2002 in a 2-2 home draw with Romania in Istanbul. Zeki Rezi Sporel scored both goals for Turkey and is considered the first big star of the Turkish national team.
Turkey played their first competitive match at the 1924 Olympics in a 5-2 defeat to Czechoslovakia.
Success in the 1940s and 1950s
In 1948, Turkey reached the quarter-finals of the football tournament at the Olympic Games in the United Kingdom.
They qualified for the 1950 FIFA World Cup tournament, but were forced to withdraw due to financial constraints.
Turkey once again made the quarter-finals at the Olympic Games in Finland in 1952. In 1954, they participated in their first ever FIFA World Cup, suffering a group stage exit. In 1956, Turkey beat a famously strong Hungary team 3-1 in a friendly.
Israel qualified ahead of Turkey, Indonesia and Sudan after all three refused to participate in qualifying. Turkey protested against having been placed in the African/Asian zone rather than the European Zone, hence their withdrawal.
The Barren Years
In the 1960s, despite the establishment of a national league and success for Turkish clubs, the national team struggled. They went on to narrowly miss out on qualification for Euro 1972 and 1976. In the 1980s, they suffered their heaviest defeats of all time, losing 8-0 on two occasions to England and once to Poland.
Late 1980s and 1990s
Turkey's qualification campaign for the 1990 World Cup saw the national team turn a corner to some degree. They only missed out on qualification in the final game.
During this time, the team boasted big-name players such as Ridvan Dilmen, Oguz Çetin, Riza Çalimbay, Feyyaz Uçar, and European Golden Boot winner Tanju Çolak. At the time, Çolak was on the books of Turkish giants Galatasaray, for whom he scored at a strike rate of roughly a goal per game for over the course of four years.
German coach Sepp Piontek took charge of the national team in 1990 and ushered in a new era of players, including Bülent Korkmaz, Alpay Özalan, Sergen Yalcin, Rüstü Reçber, and Hakan Sükür, which would become the spine of the national team for years to come.
In 1993, Piontek was replaced by Fatih Terim, who guided Turkey to Euro 1996, their first ever European Championship and their first major tournament appearance since 1954.
Turkey lost all of their matches at Euro 1996 without scoring. However, the Fair Play award was given to Alpay Özalan. This was given due to him allowing Goran Vlaovic to run half the length of the field without fouling him as Croatia scored the only goal of their game against Turkey off a counter-attack.
Turkey once again qualified for Euro 2000, despite missing out on the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
In the group stage of Euro 2000, they lost 2-1 to Italy, drew 0-0 with Sweden, and beat host nation Belgium 2-0, eliminating them from the tournament and qualifying for the quarter-finals. In the last eight, Turkey were beaten 2-0 to Portugal. Their cause was not helped by Arif Erdem failing to convert an opportunity from the penalty spot.
The first year of the new millennium was also the year in which Senol Günes took over as manager of the Turkish national team.
2002 World Cup campaign
Turkey finished second in their qualifying group for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, qualifying via the playoffs with a 6-0 aggregate victory over Austria.
After starting the World Cup finals with a 2-1 group stage defeat to Brazil, Turkey progressed to the next round with a 3-0 win over China PR and a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica.
Turkey beat co-hosts Japan 1-0 in the round of 16 and then eliminated Senegal 1-0 thanks to a golden goal, booking their spot in the semi-finals, where they once again faced Brazil.
After a 1-0 defeat, they were forced to play in the third-placed playoff against South Korea, which Turkey won 3-2 to clinch bronze in their best ever World Cup performance. Hakan Sükür scored Turkey's first goal in 10.8 seconds against South Korea, making it the fastest goal in World Cup history.
Rüstü Reçber, Alpay Özalan and Hasan SaS made the All-Star Team for the tournament, while Reçber was also voted as the best goalkeeper in the UEFA Team of the Year 2002. Senol Günes was voted as the best manager.
The Modern Era (2002-present)
At the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup in France, Turkey finished in third place. Tuncay scored three goals and picked up an assist, which won him the Silver Shoe Award as well as the Silver Ball Award for the second best player of the tournament.
Turkey made the semi-finals of UEFA Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, their best ever performance at the European Championships. After losing 2-0 to Portugal in their opening group stage game, they rallied back to beat Switzerland 2-1 and the Czech Republic 3-2 to qualify for the quarter-finals, where they faced Croatia.
After forcing a penalty shootout against Croatia with a late equaliser from Semih Sentürk, they won it and advanced to the semi-finals, where they lost 3-2 to Germany.
Turkey failed to qualify for the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cup tournaments. They made the group stage of Euro 2016 and managed to qualify for Euro 2020. Qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar got off to a bright start.
Rüstü Reçber and Hakan Sükür are probably the two most influential legends in the history of Turkish football. Rüstü is famous for wearing war paint during matches. This was copied by South African goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands in years to come.
Turkish football fans are known for being passionate in defence of their teams, while violence has also been a problem in the past at Turkish club matches in particular.
Turkey's major football rivalries are with Croatia, who they eliminated controversially from Euro 2008 due to a penalty shootout after a late equaliser which Croatia manager Slaven Bilic claimed had come after extra time had elapsed, and Greece.
- Jun 11, 2021
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