Lions festivities culminate with TT Arena celebrations

Lions festivities culminate with TT Arena celebrations

(Photo: Today's Zaman)

May 14, 2012, Monday/ 10:57:00/ OKAN UDO BASSEY

Galatasaray, or the lions, have won 18 championships overall since the Turkish league was inaugurated in 1959. But the 2011-12 title they won on Saturday seems to tower above all the others. And the reasons are not hard to find.

Fenerbahçe, or the Yellow Canaries, is still in a deep trance after surrendering the super League title to Galatasaray at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on Saturday. But when the Canaries finally wake up, it's then they will know the implications of Galatasaray having lifted the coveted trophy in Kadıköy

This was a season wherein the Lions won three league “championships,” so to speak: They clinched the honorary “winter champion” crown by finishing first at the halfway point in December. The Lions followed up by topping the Super League at the end of the regular season and should have been crowned champion in mid-April, and stood firm in the inaugural four-team Super Final on Saturday to finish first and be crowned undisputed champion of Turkey.

And the fact that the Lions lifted the coveted trophy after a 0-0 draw with avowed foe Fenerbahçe at FB Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Kadıköy on Saturday made this season championship all the sweeter.

Wild celebrations at TT

And so there has been no end to the Galatasaray championship festivities. There were wild celebrations across the country until Sunday morning. But that was far from enough, as Galatasaray again converged on Turk Telekom Arena, the den of the Lions, to give honor to whom honor is due.

First, the Galatasaray officials, led by Chairman Ünal Aysal and Fatih terim, walked to the podium. Then everyone who has contributed to Galatasaray's success this season -- including the assistant coaches, masseurs, cooks, drivers, you name it -- was also invited.

Thereafter, the players were called upon one by one to come to the podium. All foreign players -- Emmanuel Eboue (Ivory Coast), Johan Elmander (Sweden), Albert Riera (Spain), Felipe Melo (Brazil), Milan Baros and Tomas Ujfalusi (Czech Republic) came with their respective national banners.

Melo, nicknamed “Pit Bull,” did his trademark pit-bull walk and was joined by Eboue, and both players later did a bit of Latino dancing.

The Turkish players also took their places on the podium, and there was loud applause when the name of midfielder Ayhan Akman, who is hanging up his boots, was called. And the applause grew even louder when the name of dead-ball specialist Selçuk İnan, who scored several critical goals for Galatasaray from set pieces this season, was mentioned.

Great coach Terim honored

Aysal, calling Terim a great coach, presented the coach with the No. 5 jersey he used to wear during his playing days.

The fans in TT Arena joined the fray, mocking rival Fenerbahçe with the song “Title postponed until tomorrow” and by shedding crocodile tears.

However, things almost went sour when hundreds of fans in the stands invaded the podium to celebrate with the players, who later “fled” to the dressing room until some calm was restored.

Fenerbahçe, or the Yellow Canaries, is still in a trance after surrendering the league title to Galatasaray at Şükrü Saracoğlu on Saturday. But when the Yellow Canaries finally wake, they will know the implications of Galatasaray having lifted the trophy in Kadıköy.

This is something that may never happen again in our lifetime, and the Canaries may never have the opportunity to exact revenge, because the enigmatic thing called the Super Final may be gone for good next season.

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