Can Turkey emulate the success of Euro 2008?

Following their inspirational campaign in 2008, will Turkey reach such heights eight years on?

Can Turkey emulate the success of Euro 2008?
European dream in 2008. | Source: Sky Sports

After the heartbreak of not qualifying for the competition in 2012, Turkey will look to the fond memories of the 2008 European Championships for inspiration to kick start their Euro 2016 campaign with good intentions.

Having successfully clinched qualification this year, we look back at how they fared in their last appearance at the finals, in which they reached the final four of the competition after conquering a tough group stage.

A tough group

Turkey won seven of their 12 games in the qualification round for Euro 2008, their biggest win coming in a 5-0 dismantling of Moldova. Despite their particularly strong qualifying form, the Turks were unable to carry the momentum into the first game of the group stage, as they fell by two goals at the feet of Portugal.

Following the disappointment of not qualifying in 2004, it was crunch time for Turkey as their hopes of a successful European competition were in their hands. However, it involved them getting out of an agonisingly tough group.

Turkey were thrown into a group alongside Portugal, Switzerland and Czech Republic; three strong teams with added experience at European competitions. Following their inability to get a result against Portugal in the opening game of the group, Ay-Yıldızlılar turned their attention to the next game; Switzerland.

Quite like the Portugal fixture, things did not start to plan in the second group game. Going behind in the first half added immense pressure to the Turkish team as their competition progress was all to play for in the second half. The added pressure seemed to spur them on, scoring early in the second half and claiming all three points in what was the last passage of play; a late goal by the then newly emerging young superstar, Arda Turan, sealed a 2-1 victory.

A love of leaving it late

Turkey had found a love for late goals in the group stage, as in their final game against Czech Republic, they came from two goals behind to win the game 3-2. A goal from fan favourite Turan and a last-gasp double from Nihat Kahveci meant that Turkey had qualified for the quarter finals, after finishing second in the group.

They left it late once more in the quarter finals, facing a strong Croatian team. The game went to extra-time as neither team could find the resources to break the deadlock in 90 minutes.

The game was sprung to life in the final moments of the second half of extra time; Croatia took the lead with one minute to go. Their dramatic celebrations communicated that they thought they had won the game, but their opposition thought otherwise. In true Turkish Euro 2008 fashion, they grabbed the equaliser a minute later in the final seconds of play with a Semih Sentürk goal.

Penalties; it was a rather quick penalty shootout, with a total of four penalties converted. Turkey emerged victorious 3-1, taking them to the semi-finals of the competition, and dreamland for the country.

Turkey celebrate the winning penalty in the shootout. | Source: tarihtebugun
Turkey celebrate the winning penalty in the shootout. | Source: tarihtebugun

The Germans call it quits on Turkish glory

Turkey had overcome massive, massive hurdles in the competition. Their confidence was sky high, and it needed to be as they faced a legendary German side in the semi’s.

It was a game that reflected the progression of the Turkish team, scoring first in the game thanks to Ugar Boral. Bastian Schweinsteiger responded minutes later, and Miroslav Klose added to the goals in the second half; 2-1 to Germany.

The man with the golden goal in the quarter-finals struck again late in the contest. Sentürk levelled the game at 2-2 with two minutes to play, but the Germans responded. Turkey were dealt a blow with a taste of their own medicine - Philipp Lahm scoring in the final minute to take his country to the final.

Heartbreaking moment for Turkey as they are knocked out by Germany. | Source: gettyimages
Heartbreaking moment for Turkey as they are knocked out by Germany. | Source: Getty

Fond memories

It was heartache for Turkey who were so close, but no regrets could be taken from the competition as they performed to a level that nobody truthfully expected they could reach.

With a squad packed with stars and upcoming talent this year, Fatih Terim will certainly reflect on the success of Euro 2008 to inspire and motivate his young and able team at this year’s competition.