Is Turkey quickly becoming a powerhouse?
They have performed well in the last two tournaments that they've featured in but are Turkey
on the verge of becoming the next great football league in Europe?
The Turks amazed many to reach the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea - going on to claim third place over South Korea in a play-off - and then went on to secure another semi-final spot in last month's Euro 2008 and have been enticing many big names to join their league in the process.
Already at the top clubs in the Tukcell Super league before this Summer were the likes of Roberto Carlos, Mateja Kezman, Edouard Cisse, Colin Kazim-Richards, Tomas Sivok and Tobias Linderoth with former World Cup winner Zico managing at Fenerbache. Their recent record in European competition has been rather impressive given the apparent lack of depth in their league with Galatasaray claiming the UEFA Cup in 2000 and Fenerbache reaching the last eight of the Champions League last season.
It can hardly be said that the league hasn't produced teams which can compete at the highest level but it is only recently that the likes of the aforementioned players have made the move across Europe to the very edge of the continent itself in order to ply their trade and it is likely that the Turkish league will feature heavily in football betting
in the future.
This may have something to do with the exploits of the national team or it may be down to the influx of money from foreign ownership sponsorship rising in the league. It could be a mixture of the two but what is certain is that we are in the midst of the Turkcell Super League gaining not only in exposure but also in credibility.
On the 5th July Galatasaray announced the signing of Harry Kewell from Liverpool on a free transfer and although this now ends the possibility of the former Leeds winger being named as one of Australia’s over-aged players for the Olympics this Summer, the Aussie obviously believes that a move to Turkey is the right move in his career. After signing for the domestic Champions Kewell said of the league:
"There's a lot of talk about the Turkish league, it's coming up in the world. The national team has done well in the last couple of international tournaments and there's a lot of young talent here"
And the 28-year-old is not the only one who believe this. Someone much older has also made the move to Istanbul.
Newly crowned Euro 2008 winning coach Luis Aragones has been named as Zico’s replacement after the former Brazil international left the club earlier this Summer. What is interesting about the move is that the 69-year-old in theory could have chosen any club in Europe to manage given his new found credentials yet he, like Kewell chose to open a new chapter in his career where West meets East.
Aragones said of his two-year contract with the national league runners-up, "I am here both with my brain and heart to work for Fenerbahce."
"I know I have come to a good and strong team. I can tell you that I am very happy to be here. This season we want to win every possible title."
Many critics will say that the likes of Kewell, Kezman and Carlos - who are heading very quickly into the dying embers of their careers - signing for Turkish sides proves that the league is a graveyard for former stars but the appointment of Aragones, fresh from European success will go a long way to quashing their statements.
These two are the latest in a trend to make the move to the very Eastern point of Europe and at this rate you can bet their international
side will improve further still and the likes of England, Spain and Italy must keep one eye on a league which appears to be slowly building up to something which should be taken very seriously indeed.
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