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Snap shot: Turkey come back from the dead

We turn the clock back to 2008, when Turkey pulled off the comeback of all comebacks to reach the last four.

Snap shot: Turkey come back from the dead
Snap shot: Turkey come back from the dead ©Getty Images

Write off Turkey at your peril became a mantra at UEFA EURO 2008. Time and again Fatih Terim's team were left for dead, only to emerge alive and kicking. They came from behind to beat Switzerland in the last minute, then recovered from 2-0 down in the last quarter of an hour to stun the Czech Republic in their third match (anything less and they were out).

Incredibly, their quarter-final against Croatia eclipsed everything that had come before. With one minute of extra time left, Ivan Klasnić finally broke the deadlock and that looked to be it. Not at all. Semih Şentürk drove in a 122nd-minute equaliser and in the shoot-out 35-year-old goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber clinched victory. Turkey had done it again.

Arda celebrates qualification for EURO 2016
Arda celebrates qualification for EURO 2016©AFP/Getty Images
Watch the full match on UEFA.tv

1 Arda Turan
Turkey's finest player of this millennium. Arda joined Galatasaray aged 12 and by the time he left for Atlético 12 years later, his reputation as a midfielder with great vision, technique and leadership skills was assured. In Spain he won the Liga championship in 2013/14, and in 2015 it took Barcelona a fee of €34m to prise him from the capital. That made Arda the most expensive Turkish footballer ever, though he spent a season and a half on loan at İstanbul Başakşehir before the deal was terminated in January.

2 Tuncay Şanlı
A versatile forward, Tuncay earned a place in Fenerbahçe folklore with a hat-trick against Manchester United in 2004/05. He won three league titles before a nomadic existence that brought spells in England, Germany, Qatar and finally India, where he turned out for Pune City. He earned the last of his 80 caps in October 2010 and, with 22 goals, is Turkey's third highest scorer. He also played in goal for his country – taking the gloves after Volkan Demirel was sent off against Czech Republic in 2008.

3 Hamit Altıntop 
Terim's decision to switch Hamit from right-back to midfield two matches into EURO 2008 was arguably the turning point in Turkey's campaign: he set up all three goals in the last 15 minutes against the Czechs. Balanced, skilful and capable of unsettling a defence with a visionary pass or penetrating dribble, German-born Hamit was at Bayern in 2008 and had a spell with Real Madrid before moving to Galatasaray, eventually retiring in 2018. Hamit, whose identical twin Halil also represented Turkey, now works for the Turkish Football Federation.

4 Sabri Sarıoğlu
Sabri spent 14 of his 15 career seasons at Galatasaray. What the right-back lacked in technique and passing range he made up for with industry and self-sacrifice: a coach's favourite. He helped spark Turkey's comeback after coming on as a substitute versus the Czechs, while at club level his stunning last-minute clincher against Bordeaux in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup round of 32 is fondly remembered. Sabri, who retired in 2018 after a campaign with Göztepe, landed six league titles.

A minute of madness: Turkey’s 2008 win over Croatia
A minute of madness: Turkey’s 2008 win over Croatia

5 Semih Şentürk
If Turkey came back from the dead several times at UEFA EURO 2008, then Semih carried the defibrillator paddles. He scored the goal that revived hopes in the group stage; then came the 122nd-minute equaliser against Croatia. He almost did it again in the semis, only for Germany's Philipp Lahm to drown out Turkish celebrations. Semih was nearly always used as an impact sub, as he frequently was during a 15-year stay at Fenerbahçe where he won five league titles. He hung up his boots in 2018.

Watch in full: Turkey 3-2 Czech Rep.

6 Gökhan Zan
The tall centre-back's best time came at Beşiktaş, where he landed a league championship and three Turkish Cups. He won three more titles after joining Galatasaray in 2009, although frequent injuries did him no favours, prompting the nickname 'Glass Man'. Gökhan retired in November 2015 and moved into coaching.

7 Uğur Boral 
A pacy left-winger occasionally utilised at left-back. The 2007/08 season was his best, even if he failed to pick up a trophy. He starred in Fenerbahçe's 3-2 UEFA Champions League win against Sevilla and struck the opening goal against Germany in the semi. Known for his anticipation, technique and touchline-hugging runs, Uğur secured two titles with the Yellow Canaries but injuries dogged him. He wound down his career as a back-up option at Beşiktaş before retiring in 2015.  

Emre Aşık denies Croatia's Ivica Olić
Emre Aşık denies Croatia's Ivica Olić©Getty Images

8 Emre Aşık
A tough-tackling defender and one of an elite band of players to represent Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş. Also part of the Turkey side that reached the semi-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2008, Emre worked briefly as a television pundit before switching to coaching. He has since worked as an assistant in the national youth set-up.

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