George Orwell was none too complimentary about how the world would look in 1984
George Orwell was none too complimentary about how the world would look in 1984 and for followers of Turkish football it certainly proved a momentous year...
At the time, the game in Turkey was still developing and England took full advantage, handing out an 8-0 drubbing to a country that was still regarded as one of the whipping boys of European football.
Interestingly, the same scoreline was meted out in a European Championship qualifier between the two nations a few years later when the Turks failed to win any of their group games. How times change. The boot is now very much on the other foot as England seek that all-important important draw in Istanbul on Saturday.
Remarkably, in less than a generation, Turkey have developed from also-rans to a growing power on the world stage. Their performance at last year's World Cup, only their second ever appearance in the finals and their first for 48 years, not only confounded the critics given their previously unheralded pedigree but put them on the map as one of the most technically gifted nations in Europe.
The sceptics may say they had a relatively easy draw en route to the semifinals and were handed a giant lifeline by Brazil's five-goal demolition of Costa Rica. But no-one who witnessed their roller-coaster ride to the last four could argue that the Turks were prime examples of the new order that came of age in Korea and Japan and left its indelible mark on the game.
When the Turks returned home after beating co-hosts South Korea in the third place playoff, fireworks, balloons and confetti filled the sky as thousands greeted a team who had gone into the tournament expected to pose a threat or two to the established order but certainly not as likely semifinalists.
Suddenly, all the squabbles and conspiracy theories that at one stage threatened to send Turkey home empty-handed were forgotten.
While even the most diehard Turkish fans were surprised by the level of World Cup success, it has to be said that their footballers had already hinted at something of a renaissance by reaching the last eight at Euro 2000, the year Galatasaray also lifted the Uefa Cup by beating Arsenal in the final.
That success that ended any nagging doubts about Turkey's ability, at club and national level, to compete on the biggest stage. Progress before may have gone relatively unnoticed outside the country but there was a growing belief back home that the new Millennium would witness a new power in world football.
And so it has proved. Nowadays, at least half of the Turkish squad ply their trade overseas yet bizarrely, the nation to which Turkey partially owes its footballing renaissance is Germany where several of the current Turkish squad were born.
It all started with Jupp Derwall, the former German national coach who was in charge of a Turkish side in the 1980s that included Fatih Terim and Moustapha Denizli, both of whom went on to manage the national side themselves. Derwall, who also coached Galatasaray, altered the mentality of Turkish football, infusing it with a new-found confidence and self-belief.
Throughout Turkish football, the German influence cannot be under-estimated. Umit Davala, the midfielder with the red hair streak, grew up in Germany as did Yildiray Basturk, whose father was an immigrant coal miner, and Ilhan Mansiz who still speaks with a German accent.
The importance of recruiting German-born players is not lost on the Turkish FA, which has a bureau in Dortmund specifically to target young talent - offspring of the massive Turkish immigrant population -- or on national coach Senol Gunes. "They have great tactical awareness," said Gunes. "We have talented players in Turkey but they have not always been given the best training in their early development."
Now comes the latest episode in their rapid renaissance, a winner-takes-all fixture for an automatic place in the Euro 2004 finals, ironically against the country who introduced the game to Turkey back in the 19th century . Eight-nil again to England? Even 1-0 would be a terrific achievement for Sven Goran Eriksson and his team.
by Andrew Warshaw
P 9, W 8, D 1, L 0, F 31, A 0