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'We are in the final whoever wins'

Wednesday's semi-final does not exactly sound like a local derby – but with more than two million Turkish people living in Germany, this could effectively be one.

Many cars are flying both flags
Many cars are flying both flags ©Getty Images

Strong ties
Around seven million foreign citizens live in Germany, and two million of them are Turkish, with 400,000 others having similar roots. In the 1960s the booming West German economy produced a labour shortage, prompting a stream of Turkish arrivals. In reverse, four million German tourists flock to Turkish beaches annually. Ties are strong between the two countries, but the relationship has not always been easy between communities, as is often the case with mass immigration. Things have changed for the better though in recent years. Third and fourth-generation Turkish-Germans have founded successful companies in their new home country, creating jobs and making an important contribution to the gross national product. Integration is now strong.

Footballing links
Football has also played its part in bringing together the two cultures. Turkey squad members Hamit Altıntop and Hakan Balta were born in Germany, with thousands of others of similar extraction playing at all levels. This has led the Turkish Football Association to open an office in Germany, scouting heavily for future Altıntops and Baltas, something which bore fruit in the 2005 UEFA European Under-17 Championship when Ludenscheid-born Nuri Şahin was the inspiration for Turkey's triumph. Others of Turkish decent, such as Mehmet Scholl, have represented Germany while the German Sepp Pontiek played a crucial role in Turkey's international rise when he was national coach, assisted by one Fatih Terim.

Indescribable scenes
In 2006, when Turkey failed to reach the FIFA World Cup finals, many Turkish-Germans started openly supporting the hosts for the first time, flying combined flags from their cars, homes and business. At UEFA EURO 2008™, they have been spoilt for choice. "I talked to my girlfriend in Berlin," said Germany defender Arne Friedrich after Turkey's quarter-final win, "and she told me that the Turkish celebrations in the streets were indescribable. It will be a very special football party on Wednesday." His sentiment has been shared by Turkish callers to German radio. "This will be the game of the century for us," stated one.

All winners
About half a million people are expected to flock to the Fan Mile in Berlin on Wednesday night for the match. "It couldn't have been better for Berlin than these two teams meeting," said Fan Mile spokesman Michael Wirtz. Basel also expects an influx of fans supporting both nations, potentially doubling the city's population for the night. In addition, many factories that have a German and Turkish workforce are giving their employees time off to watch the game together. Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Association of Turkish Communities in Germany added: "We are already in the final. By this, I mean Germany and Turkey. My car flies both flags. Germany is the fatherland, Turkey the motherland. Both are in our hearts and this is a positive way of showing it."