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 all 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 it. Turkey had done it again.
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 has gained broader appreciation with Atleti winning the Liga championship in 2013/14, and last summer it took Barcelona a fee of €34m to prise him from the capital. That made Arda, already capped over 80 times aged 29, the most expensive Turkish footballer ever.
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 now India, where he plays for Pune City. He earned the last of his 80 caps in October 2010 and, with 22 goals, is Turkey's second highest scorer. He also played in goal for his country – taking the gloves when Volkan Demirel was sent off against the Czech Republic in 2008.
3 Hamit Altıntop
Terim's decision to switch Hamit from right-back to midfield two matches into UEFA EURO 2008 was arguably the turning point in Turkey's campaign: he set up all three goals in the final 15 minutes against the Czech Republic. Balanced, skilful and capable of unsettling a defence with a visionary pass or penetrating dribble, German-born Hamit was at Bayern München in 2008 and had a spell with Real Madrid before moving to Galatasaray, where he remains. Identical twin Halil also represented Turkey.
4 Sabri Sarıoğlu
Sabri has spent his entire career at Galatasaray and, aged 31, is still going strong. What the right-back lacks in technique and passing range he makes up for with industry and self-sacrifice: he is a coach's favourite. He helped spark Turkey's comeback after coming on as a substitute versus the Czech Republic while at club level his stunning last-minute winner against Bordeaux in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup round of 32 is fondly remembered. Sabri has won five league titles and counting.
5 Semih Şentürk
Turkey came back from the dead several times at UEFA EURO 2008, and Semih was the man armed with 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 Philipp Lahm to drown out Turkish celebrations. Semih was almost always used as an impact substitute, as he frequently was during a 15-year stay at Fenerbahçe, where he won five league titles. Now 33, the forward is still playing (and scoring goals) in the top flight at İstanbul Başakşehir.
6 Gökhan Zan
The tall centre-back's best time came at Beşiktaş, where he won a league title and three Turkish Cups. He won the championship twice more after joining Galatasaray in 2009, although frequent injuries did him no favours, earning the nickname Glass Man. Gökhan retired in November and is now studying English and doing coaching courses.
7 Uğur Boral
A pacey 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 scored the opening goal against Germany in the semi. Known for his anticipation, technique and touchline-hugging runs, Uğur won two titles with the Yellow Canaries but injuries dogged him. He wound down his career as a backup option at Beşiktaş before retiring in January.
8 Emre Aşık
A hard-tackling midfielder and one of an elite band of players to represent Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş. A member of the Turkey side that reached the semi-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2008, Emre briefly worked as a TV pundit before switching to coaching. He is now assistant to Turkey Under-21 coach Abdullah Ercan.
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