Fenerbahce acclaimed as national heroes after Seville upset
Thursday 06 March 2008
Turkish fans celebrated late into the night on Tuesday after Fenerbahce beat Seville to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, and yesterday's morning newspapers heralded the victory as putting the club among the giants of European football.
"Fenerbahce, the new star of Europe," proclaimed Sabah newspaper above a photo of the club's players running to congratulate goalkeeper Volkan Demirel after he saved the last of three spot kicks in a penalty shoot-out.
Fenerbahce became only the second Turkish team to reach the quarter-finals of the competition after former Uefa Cup-winners Galatasaray, whose success in Europe has until now overshadowed that of their Istanbul rivals.
"We said we would become a global giant and we are slowly progressing towards this," Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yildirim said in Seville after watching his team's fightback in Tuesday's match.
Seville, who had lost the first leg 3-2, raced into a two-goal lead in the first nine minutes and added a third just before half-time. But Fenerbahce reined them in with two goals to force extra-time.
The recipe for Fenerbahce's success has a strong Brazilian flavour under the leadership of coach Zico. The club's two goals on Tuesday were scored by Deivid and another Brazilian, playmaker Alex, has played an influential role in the club's progress since he joined from Cruzeiro in 2004.
Mehmet Aurelio, who has joint Brazilian and Turkish citizenship and plays for the Turkish national team, is also a vital element in the team's midfield. Defender Roberto Carlos missed the Seville game because of injury.
Despite the fierce rivalry between Fenerbahce and the other major Istanbul clubs, Galatasaray and Besiktas, the victory was trumpeted as a triumph for the whole of Turkish football, which has drifted since the national side reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2002.
"This pride is not just Fenerbahce's pride because Fenerbahce was Turkey and it achieved this success in the name of Turkey," said the former national team coach, Mustafa Denizli.
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