When German coach Jupp Derwall died on 26 June 2007, Turkey mourned him as one of its own. A charter flight from Istanbul was arranged to take mourners to his funeral – a measure of the esteem in which Derwall was held for revolutionising the game in Turkey during a three-year stint as Galatasaray AŞ coach.
On paper, his achievements might not seem that impressive; he won a Turkish Cup in 1984/85 and led the club to their first title in 14 years in 1986/87, before stepping aside to let his protégé, Mustafa Denizli, take the wheel. However, his work during that time brought modern methods to what was then a relatively backward footballing nation, and paved the way for Turkey's successes at club and international level in the future. Current Turkey coach Fatih Terim played under Derwall at Galatasaray, and has never denied his own debt to the coach.
Derwall had led West Germany to glory at the 1980 UEFA European Championship and to the final of the 1982 FIFA World Cup before stepping down after his side's 1-0 loss to Spain in the last four of the 1984 EURO. At that stage, he was offered a number of Bundesliga jobs only to unexpectedly accept an offer to join Galatasaray. "We couldn’t believe our ears when we first learned that he would be our coach," recalled İsmail Demiriz, Derwall's regular right-back at Galatasaray. "His presence at the club provided a huge confidence boost for the players."
"I don't consider myself an adventurer," Derwall explained at the time. "I'm more of a mountain climber, who wants to make it to the top of an eight-thousander. It's a difficult but very appealing and doable task."
It seemed a lot less appealing after he had a first look around the club's training facilities. He remembered his first day in Istanbul as a "catastrophe", writing: "I was shocked because the surface of the training pitch was a mixture of earth and mud instead of green grass. Since the players got hurt when they hit the ground, they couldn't even practice the basic principles of football properly. For example, they couldn't do sliding tackles and when they were tackled like that in Europe, they would be surprised and angry after losing the ball."
He immediately made the laying of a proper grass training pitch an absolute condition of his staying at the club. Galatasaray managed to win the Turkish Cup in his first season regardless, but Cüneyt Tanman – Galatasaray's captain from 1985–91 – recalled how standards improved the following season once that turf was in place.
"His arrival raised the reputation of our team," Tanman said, while Demiriz added: "After Derwall's arrival, we started having training camps, mainly in Germany, and we received a great welcome – that was because Derwall was in charge."
Serious training facilities – and serious training methods – raised the stakes for Galatasaray. They finished the 1985/86 campaign unbeaten, but lost the title to Beşiktaş JK on goal difference, with Derwall's squad introducing pressing and zonal marking to Turkish football. His side cruised to the title in 1986/87, and then won again in 1987/88 under Denizli, Derwall having taken a back seat as a technical advisor. He continued to serve the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) in that capacity until health problems forced him to remain in Germany from 1991.
By that stage his job was done. Galatasaray had made their first steps towards becoming a major force in European football, and every other club had started to take on Derwall's ideas and improve their facilities accordingly. However, his personal qualities left as much of a mark as his training methods. "Derwall tried to learn Turkish culture and wanted to be like us," Demiriz remembered. "He always used to chat with players in the meals. Having assistants like Mustafa Denizli and Ahmet Akcan who both spoke good German was very important to him."
"Derwall respected his players, opposition teams and fans," Tanman added. "In addition to his behaviour, his grey hair and fatherly approach made him liked not just by Galatasaray fans but also the whole Turkish nation."
The feeling was obviously mutual. Derwall's modesty, his uncomplaining attitude to his working conditions, his respect for colleagues and workmates at every level, and the influence he had on Turkish coaches of the future go some way to explaining why he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Ankara in 1989 for his contribution to German-Turkish relations. "I almost feel like I'm a Turkish citizen," he once said. "Turkey is like a second home for me."
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