It is known that the game of football was first played in the last quarter of the 19th century in Turkey. It all started in Thessaloniki during the Ottoman period and spread down to the meadows of Bornova. The first football club was formed by a group of English people in Izmir. Spreading further to Istanbul and being played in the meadows of Kadıköy and Moda, the fever for football managed to attract the attention of almost all the city. The first match played between the Izmir selection and the İstanbul selection in 1897 was recorded as the first football match ever played on the Turkish territory.

The first Turkish football team was formed by Fuad Hüsnü Bey and Reşat Danyal Bey under an English name, "Black Stocking", as Turkish people were forbidden to play football at the time. The match was played between this team and the team formed by Greeks at Papazın Çayırı (literally Priest's Meadow) in 1901 was the first match played by a Turkish team.

The football fever which was started by a group of English people and spread further with the involvement of a group of Greeks resulted in the formation of many football clubs one after the other.

Kadıköy Football Club, formed by a group of English and Greek people jointly, was the first football club of Istanbul. However, due to certain disputes arose between the two groups, the English formed Moda Football Club. Some Greek people from Kadıköy formed Elpis and Imogene clubs. All these teams came together and formed the Istanbul Football League in 1903. This League was the sign that football was about to spread further in this country. The interest of Turkish youth in those newly formed teams turned into an enthusiasm and they formed Turkey's first official football team. A group of grade 10 students studying at Galatasaray High School (named as Mekteb-i Sultani at the time) formed Galatasaray SK under the leadership of their friend Ali Sami Yen.

Galatasaray entered the Istanbul League in the season of 1905-1906 and, with their first championship title they won in 1907-1908, they heralded the beginning of Turkish football history. Galatasaray was followed by the formation of Fenerbahçe SK and Beşiktaş JK, giving Turkish football a new perspective. Football in Turkey began to fully develop between 1908 and 1923. New football teams were formed as the winds of freedom started to blow in the post-Second Constitutionalist era, while Turkish teams strongly confirmed their own existence. Following these developments in Istanbul, football started spreading rapidly in Izmir, Ankara, Eskişehir, Bursa, Adana and Trabzon. Among the most popular leagues of the time were Sunday League, Friday League, Istanbul Turkish Training Union League and Istanbul Championship League. Later, when the World War I started, football in Turkey came to a standstill for nearly 11 years. The early Republican Period was a turning point where a number of initiatives were taken in football, like many other areas, in Turkey. After the war was won, the foundations of a new nation were laid, while modernity and holding a place among the world's most civilized nations became the priority of that new nation, a process of collective restructuring and formation began in a number of fields including science, art and sports.


Following the formation of the Union of Turkish Training Associations, being Turkey's first sports authority, the Turkish Football Federation was established under the name "Futbol Hey'et-i Müttehidesi" at a meeting held in the meeting hall of Letafet Apartment House in Şehzadebaşı in 1923, and Yusuf Ziya Öniş was elected first President. Following the Federation's establishment, Turkey applied to FIFA for membership and became FIFA's 26th member on 21 May 1923.

As a FIFA member, the Turkish National Team played their first international match against Romania at the Istanbul Taksim Stadium on 26 October 1923, only three days before the Republic of Turkey was declared. The match ended with a 2-2 draw. Later, Billy Hunter of Scotland was hired to prepare the Turkish National Team for the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. Hunter was the first coach to introduce Turkish footballers to modern football and train them systematically.

The match played and lost 5-2 against Czechoslovakia during the 1924 Paris Olympic Games was Turkey's first official match abroad.

During that period up until 1936, the first Turkish Championship was held in Ankara, with Harbiye winning the title. The first Turkish referee who officiated the USSR-Turkey match in 1924 at the request of FIFA was Hamdi Emin Çap. The first referee and coaching courses were also opened and the initial away matches under the National League were played in the same period.

Along with the revocation of the Turkish Sports Agency in 1938 and placement of Turkish sports under the rule of the General Directorate of Physical Training, the state started to govern football.


The following decade can be summarized as the continuous development of Turkish football. Upon recognition of professional football in 1952, first qualification of Turkish National Team for the 1954 World Cup finals held in Switzerland and hiring of some Turkish players by foreign clubs are among the important developments of this period.

In fact, the Turkish National Team were qualified for the 1950 World Cup finals for the first time. After World War II, FIFA decided to continue to hold World Cup finals after 12 years. The finals were not to be in the war-worn continent of Europe, but in the continent of America, which was up next. Without thinking much, FIFA picked Brazil which was dying to host the World Cup finals. However, that decision was a serious blow to Turkey. Because, due to the country's financial problems, Turkey, who carried a 7-0 trashing of Syria in a play-off, could not afford to go to Brazil.

However, Turkey did not wait long for the next World Cup. The 1954 World Cup finals were going to be held in Switzerland. Turkey plays against Spain in a qualifier. Swiss people, like many others across the world, believed in a victory by Spain so much that they placed Spanish flags in their World Cup memorabilia. It was no surprise to any one when our National Team lost to Spain 4-1 in the first leg in Madrid. However, there was yet another 90 minute-game in Istanbul. Our National Team won the second leg 1-0. At the time, the "goal average" rule did not apply. A play-off had to be played at a neutral venue to qualify for the finals. The venue was Rome, Italy. At the end of the game, the score was 2-2. According to the rules, no extra time was played and no penalty kick tie-breakers were applied. Finally, the qualifier was going to be named by a coin toss. An Italian ballboy served during the game was called to toss the coin. The boy's name was Franco, who did not know that his name would be mentioned in Turkish football history, comes near the referee and both teams' captains. The Turkish captain says "Tails!" The time that passed between Franco's flip of the coin into the air and the coin's fall to the ground felt like a century. Curious eyes focused on the coin laying on the ground; it was tails, directing Turkey towards Switzerland. Turkey were to take their place in the finals for the first time in history.

But, Turkish National Team's performance in the finals was worse than expected. Playing against West Germany, Turkey were the first to score (by Suat Mamat) in the second minute, but lost 4-1, failing to prevent the goals scored by Schaefer at 14', Klodt at 52', O. Walter at 60' and Morlock at 81'. Our second match was against the weak S. Korea side which we defeated 7-0 by goals scored by Suat at 10' and 70', Lefter at 24', Burhan at 37', 64' and 70', and Erol at 76'. By the way, Germany were defeated by Hungary and became our opponent once again. But, our National Team's performance against the German side was even worse than the first match and lost out 2-7 to Germany for a quick trip back home. Our two goals were scored by Mustafa at 22' and Lefter at 82', while Germany's goals were scored by O. Walter at 7', Schaefer at 12' and 79', Morlock at 31', 60' and 71' and F. Walter at 62'.


The milestones of Turkish football between 1950 and 1960 were as follows: the professional football leagues were formed in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir; the number of football clubs in other cities rapidly increased; Galatasaray, Göztepe and Fenerbahçe achieved successful results in European cups; and foreign players started to play for Turkish clubs. In 1962, UEFA declares Turkey's full membership.

The Turkish Football Federation starts to organize "Turkish Cup" in the 1962-63 season for Turkish clubs to qualify for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Additionally, in 1967, the 20th European U-21 Football Championship was hosted by Turkey. The 1970s introduced a series of important changes in Turkey and the world alike. One of the most striking of these changes was that an increasing number of Turkish clubs started to employ foreign coaches. Brian Birch of England and Didi of Brazil performed successfully with the teams they coached in the Turkish First Division. In the same period, the Turkish National Team started to perform poorly while Turkish clubs were never satifactory in the European cups.

In that period, many Yugoslavian players played in our leagues up until the 1990s. The 1970s witnessed an "Anatolian Revolution" in Turkish football. Trabzonspor achieved the championship title in their second year in the Turkish League which they were promoted in 1974. Trabzonspor achieved a total of 6 League championships in a short period of time and played a leading role in football's spread across Anatolia.

In the 1980s, though the approach to club management changes, we witness no important change in the level of football played, except a few successful results. However, with the arrival of Jupp Derwall, who turned Galatasaray into a team playing football with a certain system, in Turkey was one of the indicators showing that somethings were about to change. The first of these indicators was that Galatasaray, which was coached then by Mustafa Denizli, who served as an assisstant coach during the Derwall period, played in the semi finals of the European Champions Cup in the late 1980s. In the same period, Şenes Erzik was appointed President of the Turkish Football Federation with the support of Turgut Özal, the then Prime Minister of Turkey, in 1989 and Şenes Erzik had been a milestone in Turkish football history. During his presidency, insfrastructural programs were given priority and more systematic training conditions were created. Turkish football took a series of initiatives and revolutionary decisions in the 1990s. In 1990, Erzik was elected by the UEFA Congress to UEFA's Executive Committee as the first Turkish delegate, and later appointed as Vice-Chairman of two major Committees. All the infrastructural investments made paid off in 1992 and our U-19 National Team achieved their first European Championship title. The successful results, such European Championships achieved in 1994 and 2005, obtained in the following years proved that the first European Championship title was not achieved by chance.


The Turkish Football Federation earned autonomy in 1992. The developments and changes in football showed that it was more than a sport. The financial values increasingly created by football and the widening interest in football showed that football had to be governed by an autonomous organization. Law No. 3813, adopted on 17 June 1992, and granted autonomy to the Turkish Football Federation. Pursuant to Article 1 of the Law, the Turkish Football Federation was established as an autonomous organization and as being subject to private law for the purposes of conducting and organizing football activities in line with national and international rules and representing Turkey in and outside Turkey in the field of football. Ever since its establishment as an autonomous organization, the Turkish Football Federation ("TFF") has been continuing its operations successfully.

The Pool System, which was introduced in 1997, helped our clubs generate broadcasting revenues in hundreds of millions of US Dollars. The successful results obtained, particularly those of our National Team, in the following years paved the path towards sponsorship and helped TFF sign huge agreements, providing added value of millions of US Dollars to Turkish football economy. The importance of football economy was also realized by club managements which later signed sponsorship agreements.

1993 was also an active year for TFF. TFF hosted U-16 European Championship and introduced the Fair Play principle in the Turkish Leagues. Also, the anti-doping programs implemented in the same year paid off well. TFF President Şenes Erzik was elected UEFA Vice-President and member of FIFA Executive Committee during the meeting held in Vienna in 1994.

In the same period, Lale Orta, a Turkish female referee, was accredited by FIFA, and the construction of a number of facilities, including the Atatürk Education and Research Center in Beylerbeyi, TFF Headquarters in Levent and the "National Teams Camping and Training Facility" in Riva, were completed. Many of our clubs took similar initiatives and started to construct new facilities with the funding projects offered by TFF.

There were no election system up until 1992 in TFF. Mr. Erzik was appointed by Prime Minister on 24th March 1989 as the President of TFF. By changing the TFF Statues in accordance with FIFA and UEFA Statues, the election system was in implementation from September 1992 onwards. So therefore, at the same date Mr Erzik was the first ever elected President of TFF by General Assembly. His presidency continued up until 1996 when he was re-elected for another term of four years.


In 1996 again, our National Team achieved a first in their history and qualified for the European Championship which was to be held in England.

The young generation, which played in the 1991 Mediterranean Games final under the management of Fatih Terim, undersigned a first in Turkish football history. When Fatih Terim took Sepp Piontek's place to coach our National Team, the young squad that he compiled beginning from 1991 achieved historic successes. Our National Team were drawn to play Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary and Iceland in Group 3 in the 1996 European Championship Qualifiers and won 4 games, drew 3 and lost one in a total of 8 matches, ranking second behind Switzerland, leaving Sweden behind, and went to the finals as the "best second ranking team" in the qualifying stage.

However, our National Team's performance was really poor in the tournament. Their good play was not paid off. They lost their first two games 1-0 to Croatia and Portugal in Nottingham and the last one 3-0 to Denmark played in Sheffield, and did not even manage to score a goal or receive a point. However, the road to big finals were already paved.

In 1997, as Şenes Erzik left his office of President, which was held by Abdullah Kiğılı for a short period of time, Haluk Ulusoy was elected President of TFF in December. In 1998, TFF opened its "European Football Office" in Germany in order to explore and obtain young Turkish talents living in Europe. By the way, Şenes Erzik, the Honorary President of TFF, was elected to UEFA's Executive Committee and as FIFA's Referee Committee Chairman at the meeting held in Dublin.

The early 2000s of TFF under the management of Haluk Ulusoy could be named as Turkish football's golden years. The investments made in footballing infrastructure, training and facilities started to pay off and the achievements of our National Team and clubs started to become a classic.

The most remarkable international success of Turkish football at club level was achieved in 2000. Galatasaray, which held the title at the end of the 1998-99 season, qualified for the Champions League on 11 August by beating Rapid Wien 3-0 and 1-0 in both playoff games. Galatasaray was drawn to play Chelsea, Hertha Berlin and Milan in their group, and finished the group stage in the third place above Milan and continued their route to the UEFA Cup. The sorrow of being eliminated from the Champions League was the starting point of a historic victory achieved in the UEFA Cup. Eliminating Bologna of Italy, Borussia Dortmund of Germany, Real Mallorca of Spain and Leeds United of England without losing any one, and winning 5, out of these 8 matches, Galatasaray played Arsenal of England in the final.

Parken Stadium of Copenhagen, Denmark, witnessed a historic success achieved by a Turkish team on 17 May 2000. Fatih Terim's squad of Taffarel, Capone, Popescu, Bülent, Okan, Ümit, Hagi, Hakan Ünsal, Ergün, Arif, Hasan Şaş, Ahmet Yıldırım, Suat and Hakan Şükür won the UEFA Cup when the final whistle was blown in the game which, including the extra time, ended with no scoring. However, Galatasaray defeated Arsenal on penalties 4-1 and won the UEFA Cup.

The date of 28 August 2000 was also a milestone in Turkish football history. The UEFA Cup champion Galatasaray played Real Madrid, which won the Champions League title in the same year, for the Super Cup at Louis the Second Stadium in Monaco. This time the team was coached by Mircea Lucescu instead of Fatih Terim. Galatasaray, composed of Taffarel, Capone (Fatih), Bülent, Popescu, Hakan Ünsal, Ümit, Okan (Hasan), Suat, Emre, Hagi (Bülent Akın) and Jardel, and Real Madrid were level at the end of 90 minutes and Galatasaray won the game 2-1 at the end of the extra time, with goals scored by Jardel at 41 and 103 minutes. Real Madrid's goal which was scored by Raul at 79 min. was not enough.


In between these two historic successes achieved by Galatasaray, our National Team played in the 2000 European Championship quarter final. Then coached by Mustafa Denizli, our National Team, which were qualified for the 2000 European Championship finals hosted by Holland and Belgium jointly, were drawn to play Italy, host side Belgium and Sweden in Group B. Starting the tournament with 2-1 defeat against Italy in Arnheim, our National Team drew with Sweden 0-0 in Eindhoven but defeated host side Belgium 2-0 in their last group stage game which was a must-win situation. This win over Belgium ranked our team second in the group behind Italy and brought Turkey into the last eigth of the European Championship for the first time in Turkey's history. However, the 2-0 defeat against Portugal in the quarter final match in Amsterdam sent our team back home. Our National Team, which made us enjoy a quarter final in the European Championship, were composed of the following players : Rüştü Reçber, Ogün Temizkanoğlu, Alpay Özalan, Abdullah Ercan, Tayfun Korkut (Fenerbahçe), Fatih Akyel, Hakan Ünsal, Okan Buruk, Ümit Davala, Suat Kaya, Ergün Penbe, Sergen Yalçın, Arif Erdem, Hakan Şükür (Galatasaray), Fevzi Tuncay, Tayfur Havutçu, Ayhan Akman (Beşiktaş), Ömer Çatkıç, Oktay Derelioğlu (Gaziantepspor), Osman Özköylü (Trabzonspor), Tugay Kerimoğlu (Glasgow Rangers), and Mustafa İzzet (Leicester City).


Turkish football enjoyed its most remarkable days in the summer of 2002. But, the adventure starts back in the qualifiers of the World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea jointly in 2000. Our National Team played Sweden, Slovakia, Macedonia, Moldova and Azerbaijan in Group 4 of the European leg. 6 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss at the end of 10 games did not suffice to leave Sweden behind. As our team loses against Sweden 2-1 in the game played in Istanbul, the Swedish side went to the finals as the leader of the group stage, forcing Turkey to play a play-off with Austria. Then coached by Şenol Güneş, our team made their first serious show in that two-legged play-off, winning the first match 1-0 played in Vienna with the goal scored by Okan and defeated Austria with a smashing 5-0 in the second leg played at Ali Sami Yen Stadium with goals scored by Yıldıray Baştürk at 21', Hakan Şükür 30', Okan Buruk at 45', Arif Erdem at 69' and 84', gaining our team a 5-0 win and qualification for the World Cup after a pause of 48 years. But, we had to wait a little longer for the historic victory.

The coach Şenol Güneş called up the following players fo the finals in Japan and S. Korea: Rüştü Reçber, Fatih Akyel, Ümit Özat and Abdullah Ercan (Fenerbahçe), Bülent Korkmaz, Emre Aşık, Arif Erdem and Hasan Şaş (Galatasaray), Tayfur Havutçu and İlhan Mansız (Beşiktaş), Emre Belözoğlu and Okan Buruk (Inter Milan), Tugay Kerimoğlu and Hakan Ünsal (Blackburn Rovers), Hakan Şükür (Parma), Ümit Davala (Milan), Alpay Özalan (Aston Villa) Yıldıray Baştürk (Bayer Leverkusen), Mustafa İzzet (Leicester City), Nihat Kahveci (Real Sociedad), Ömer Çatkıç (Gaziantepspor) and Zafer Özgültekin (Ankaragücü).

Playing Brazil, Costa Rica and China in Group C, Turkey's first opponent was Brazil, who won the cup at the end of the tournament. Turkey lost against Brazil 2-1 in the game played in Ulsan on 3 June, where, though Hasan Şaş scored a lead, Ronaldo scored at 50' and Rivaldo at 87' from a penalty.

Our next opponent was Costa Rica. The game was played in Incheon on 9 June. As Emre Belözoğlu gave Turkey the lead on 56 minutes, Wilson Parks levelled the score on 86 minutes, finishing the game 1-1. The deciding match was to be played against China. Moreover, in the group where goal differences mattered, we were expecting Brazil to score a few goals against Costa Rica. Defeating China 3-0 with goals scored by Hasan Şaş on 6', Bülent Korkmaz on 9' and Ümit Davala on 85', our National Team booked, though on a goal average, their place in the next round, thanks to Brazil's 5-2 win against Costa Rica.

We were to face host side Japan in the next round. So, it was time for our team to travel from South Korea to Japan. Japan, which was going to play on 18 June in Miyagi, finished their Group H, where they played Belgium, Russia and Tunisia, with 7 points without losing any game. But, that was all! Turkey defeated Japan with a goal scored by Ümit Davala on 12 minutes, securing a spot in the quarter finals.

Our new opponent was Senegal, a surprising team, that defeated France and ranked second in their group where they played also Denmark and Uruguay and sent Sweden home in the second round. A spectacular and mouthwatering one, the game in Osaka finished with no goal scored and our National Team beat Senegal 1-0 on a golden goal scored by İlhan Mansız on 94 minutes in extra time, giving Turkey another game against Brazil, which beat Turkey 2-1 in the group stage, to book their place in the semi-finals.

Though our nationals performed really well against Brazil during the game played at Saitama on 26 June, Ronaldo was there to score his goal on 49 minutes, causing Turkey to lose the chance of playing in the final. Now facing co-hosts S. Korea, Turkey's new aim was to hold the third place in World Cup.

Turning back to South Korea from Japan, our nationals faced South Korea on 29 June at Deagu, with the stands fully occupied by the home team's fans naturally. The history of World Cup is full of dull and unexciting third-place matches, but this was going to be different. The fact that that one of the teams being the host and the other hungry for success turned the game into a little final. Hakan Şükür gave Turkey the lead as he hit the fastest goal of World Cup finals history after 11 seconds. South Korea regained their hope as Lee Yong scored an equalizer on 9 minutes. But İlhan Mansız finished their hope with the goals he scored on 13 and 32 minutes. The goal scored by Song Chong Gug in injury time only embellished the scoreboard. A 3-2 win over South Korea confirmed Turkey's third place in the World Cup.

But, it was not only the third place that Turkey achieved in Far East, they were also granted the Fair Play award for demonstrating fair play to the last by saluting the South Korean fans hand in hand with South Korean players who were crying for their loss of the match at their home, Deagu.


The third rank achieved by Turkey in the 2002 World Cup was confirmed during the Confederations Cup held in France. The World Cup Champions and the runner up and the champions of the continents were invited to this event. When the World Cup finalists Germany declared that they were not going to attend the tournament, Turkey were invited as the World Cup's third ranking team. Our team were to play the World Cup Champions Brazil, the African Champions Cameroon, and the CONCACAF Champions USA in Group B.

Coached by Şenol Güneş at the time, Turkey played their opener against the USA on 19 June at Geoffroy Guichard Stadium in Saint Etienne. The USA took a 37th minute lead after Beasley headed in, but, in the 39th minute, Okan Yılmaz made it 1-1 from the penalty spot and Tuncay Şanlı made it 2-1 in the 70th minute giving Turkey their first victory in the group.

However, Turkey was not that good during the match played against Cameroon on 21 June at Stade de France in Paris. Cameroon won the game with a 90th minute goal scored by Geremi from the penalty spot. Turkey's last opponent in the group were Brazil and it was time to get on level terms with Brazil. Back on the grassy ground of Geoffroy Guichard Stadium on 23 June, Turkey had goal average over Brazil and a draw was enough for Turkey to qualify for the semi finals. Adriano gave Brazil the lead with his 23rd minute goal. But that time, Turkey was fiercer and more confident. With the strength improved by the confidence of holding the third place in the last World Cup finals, Turkey got the lead thanks to a 53rd-minute goal scored by Gökdeniz Karadeniz and a 81st-minute goal by Okan Yılmaz. Brazil leveled the score with a goal scored by Alex in the 90+3rd minute, but the final score was not the one that would prevent Turkey from playing in the semi finals.

In the semi finals, Turkey faced France, the 1998 World Cup Champions and 2000 European Cup Champions. After the disappointment of being knocked out in the first round of the 2002 World Cup, France were intending to have themselves forgiven in the tournament they hosted and, with these feelings, they started the match at the Stade de France. France took the lead with two goals scored by Thierry Henry in the 11th minute and the other by Robert Pires in the 26th minute. Turkey replied through Gökdeniz Karadeniz in the 42nd minute. But the score of the first half was decided by Sylvian Wiltord in the 43rd minute: 3-1. The second half witnessed a higher spirited Turkish team and Tuncay Şanlı scored Turkey's second goal in the 48th minute, making the final score 3-2. Turkey was once again to play a third place match. And the opponents were Colombia who lost their semi final match 0-1 to Cameroon. We faced Colombia at Geoffroy Guichard Stadium, which became our good omen, in Saint Etienne on 28 June. Playing a very exciting game, Tuncay Şanlı put Turkey ahead after just two minutes and Okan Yılmaz's late winner came in the 86th minute gaining Turkey a third place in the Confederations Cup with 2-1 win over Colombia.

The squad who helped Turkey have this honor were Bülent Korkmaz, Ergün Penbe, Volkan Arslan (Galatasaray), Rüştü Reçber, Fatih Akyel, Tuncay Şanlı (Fenerbahçe), Ahmet Yıldırım, İbrahim Üzülmez (Beşiktaş), Deniz Barış (Gençlerbirliği), Ömer Çatkıç, İbrahim Toraman (Gaziantepspor), Gökdeniz Karadeniz (Trabzonspor), Servet Çetin (Denizlispor), Murat Şahin, Necati Ateş (Adanaspor), Okan Yılmaz (Bursaspor), Hüseyin Kartal (Ankaragücü), Selçuk Şahin (İstanbulspor), Alpay Özalan (Aston Villa), Yıldıray Baştürk (Bayer Leverkusen), Tayfun Korkut, Nihat Kahveci (Real Sociedad) and Fatih Sonkaya (Roda JC Kerkrade).


Turkey, who failed to qualify for the 2004 European Championship finals and 2006 World Cup finals, turned a new page for the 2008 European Championship finals. Now, foreign national players holding a Turkish passport have the opportunity to play for the Turkish National Team. The first example is the Brazilian midfielder Marco Aurelio of Fenerbahçe. Aurelio, who now holds a Turkish passport and changed his name to Mehmet, was called up by Turkey's head-coach Fatih Terim for the first time to line up during the friendly match played against Luxemburg. Determined to qualify for the 2008 European Championship finals, the Turkish National Team are continuing their efforts towards that goal.


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