As captain of the Galatasaray AŞ side that lifted the UEFA Cup nine seasons ago, Bülent Korkmaz had the perfect credentials for attending Tuesday's launch of the logo for the 2009 final in Istanbul. After the event, the 40-year-old former Turkey defender told uefa.com about his memories of defeating Arsenal FC in Copenhagen in 2000 as well as about his hopes for next May's big match at the Sükrü Saraçoglu Stadium.
uefa.com: Is this competition extra special for you as a UEFA Cup winner?
Bülent Korkmaz: We brought the UEFA Cup – a trophy every player in Europe dreams of – to Turkey, and to be part of that success as captain made me extremely happy and proud. Not many players get to lift that trophy, no matter how good they are. So it is a big legacy we managed to leave.
uefa.com: What are your memories of the 2000 final against Arsenal?
Korkmaz: I was very nervous before the game, but once I walked on to the pitch that stopped. I had played a lot of big games at Galatasaray's ground, the Ali Sami Yen, but to experience that marvellous atmosphere in Copenhagen, at the Parken Stadium, was a completely different feeling. Our fans were chanting patriotic songs and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck. They were unforgettable moments – it made you proud to be Turkish. And we were all so emotional when we won the trophy because we had wanted it so much, maybe more than Arsenal did.
uefa.com: What will it mean for Istanbul to stage a second major final in the space of four years, following the UEFA Champions League final of 2005?
Korkmaz: That Champions League final was played in the European part of the city, now the UEFA Cup final will be in the Asian side. We are trying to promote both parts of Istanbul, and I have no doubt it will be a great occasion.
uefa.com: What is the likelihood of another Turkish team lifting the UEFA Cup, with Galatasaray doing well in the group stage and Fenerbahçe possibly entering the competition via the Champions League?
Korkmaz: I would love to see two Turkish sides in the final, but realistically speaking, I want to see two teams who really deserve to be there contesting the final.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.