A moment in Turkish sporting history
Istanbul 2003 acrylic on canvas 100cm x 175cm
The first Turkish goal in the World Cup Finals for 45 years - this was the moment when Hasan Sas dispatched the ball toward the Brazilian goal for Turkey’s opening goal during the 2002 World Cup Finals; a moment when a nation as a whole raised its game and began to believe in the possible.
It had been 45 years since Turkey had reached the World Cup Finals. Their first game of the 2002 tournament was set against the mighty Brazil, arguably the best national team in the world and World Cup Champions several times before. Few outside Turkey expected the Turkish side to do well, let alone compete for the final stages and eventually finish in a remarkable 3rd place. This goal was the beginning of an adventure which raised the expectations of a nation and made the rest of the world take notice.
When the team returned to Istanbul, the roads were lined with cheering crowds all the way from the airport to Taksim Square, pushing a half-hour journey nearer to 4 hours.
Sport is a fabulous common denominator, bringing people together despite background or circumstance. This one international footballing image captures a very special moment for The Turkish Football Federation, Turkey and its people.
NPP wanted this painting to go into a public space where everyday Turkish youngsters can be inspired to belief in the possible and that impossible is impossible. It was bought at an auction and today I don't know where it hangs.
Talking further on football.......it is well known to those close to NPP that Arsenal is the favourite team. In Turkey, every time this subject matter is broached, any Galatasarary supporting Turk is quick to point out the UEFA Cup victory their beloved Cim Com had over Arsenal - on penalties we hasten to add. NPP replies: who cares? It's not the Champions League!
When asked which Turkish team NPP supports, we remain diplomatic:
Gala-Bes-Bahce or Fen-Tas-Aray or Bes-Aray-Bahce
Spelt with Turkish font characters...
Gala-Beş-Bahçe or Fen-Taş-Aray or Beş-Aray-Bahçe.......
So much money is spent on national PR campaigns by the Ministry of Tourism & Culture yet not enough was done to ensure the most was made of Galatasaray's UEFA or the World Cup success. There are 70 million passionate football fans in Turkey, yet the game is run by an elite few who seem to neglect the potential benefits and interests of the popular majority.
And what is it with football that Europe, Asia, South America and most of the world get it, but the USA apparently doesn't? Even though the USA national soccer team gets better and better, still it is apparently not a majority sport.