A 2-0 win in Istanbul, that would do nicely. Even a 1-0 victory would
Exclusive: A 2-0 win in Istanbul, that would do nicely. Even a 1-0 victory would delight us all. One man who has enjoyed both those score lines in Turkey is former England manager Graham Taylor, the man in charge of the Three Lions for their last two visits to the home of England's Group 7 rivals...
"Both games were played at the Ataturk Stadium in Izmir in very intimidating circumstances," said Taylor when he sat down to reminisce with TheFA.com.
"The character of the England sides was excellent, and it needed to be. Turkey were a developing country and even at that stage they were by no means walkovers."
The former Aston Villa manager took control of the national side after Sir Bobby Robson had guided the country to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990, and his sixth game at the helm was a trip to Turkey in a Euro '92 Qualifier.
"We played in front of a very enthusiastic crowd, the one thing that we all noticed was that when we went out for the warm-up, the stadium was almost full.
"We weren't used to that from back home, fans in Turkey would be there for up to three or four hours before the game. When you go out and have a look at the pitch after arriving at the ground, stadiums are more than half empty, but in Izmir, that ground was almost full. It was unusual, but it sent a message out to the players that things are somewhat different."
Despite the noisy support for their opponents, England came away with a 1-0 victory thanks to Dennis Wise's goal just after the half hour.
"We had some injury situations before the game and both Dennis and Geoff Thomas made their debuts," recalls Taylor, "and it was Dennis who got the goal, giving us the win."
Leafing through his comprehensive collection of notes, Des Walker's name sprung from the page and Taylor thought back to the Forest defender's fine display that night in May '91.
"We played a 4-4-2 and there was a very good performance from Des Walker against a boy called Ridvan. We'd picked him out as one of their most dangerous players and we needed to keep him under control. Des did that for us extremely well.
"We also recalled Gary Pallister for the game, along with Alan Smith, who led the line very well up front. Alan held the ball up which was important for us."
During that trip to Turkey, Taylor saw England's Under-21s play out a 2-2 draw, and one player that caught his eye will be up against Sven's men tonight.
"I remember the young boy, Hakan Sukur, playing in their Under-21s the night before and he looked one heck of a player. In the next game in '93 Hakan Sukur had now become a substitute in the senior side."
Sukur wasn't unleashed on Taylor's England in that qualifying game for the USA World Cup, but another pair of familiar faces were.
"We'd now evolved the team to play a 4-3-1-2 formation to get Paul Gascoigne in to give him the freedom to go and play," he explained, "he was man-marked by Bulent who is now the Turkish captain. Blackburn's Tugay also played in that game, he wore the number five shirt.
"By this time," continued the ex-Watford chief, "we had come out of the European Championships in a less than satisfactory position and the media had a reason to make comments which were anti-myself and it unsettled the players.
"But we went across to Turkey in a good position in our attempts to qualify. The lead-up was ok, but I remember it was very, very wet, our training facilities weren't as we liked them. This time the atmosphere was less friendly - a different feeling to the game in '91.
"It was a scrappy stop-start game, the pitch wasn't the best but we showed great character and resilience in the game. David Platt and Gascoigne got the goals, and it was an excellent result and a very solid team performance played before an extremely vocal Turkish crowd."
So Taylor knows more than most about winning in Turkey, and despite their growing stature in Europe and the world, what does he think the key is if Sven's men are to follow in his footsteps in the Fenerbahce Sukru Saracoglu stadium this evening?
"Teams don't just become good over night, in Turkey it's been happening over the last decade and after their performance in the World Cup, they have now shown what they can do.
"But for me, Steven Gerrard will be vital for England, we have to make sure the midfield is won. Turkey work the ball through the team and Gerrard will be important in our attempts to prevent them passing around us quickly and stopping them from playing."
Graham Taylor was talking to Jamie Bradbury