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Turkish football mourns loss of Lefter Küçükandonyanis 16 janvier 2012

Posted by Acturca in History / Histoire, Istanbul, Turkey / Turquie.
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Hürriyet Daily News (Turkey)

January 16, 2011, Istanbul

Thousands of fans pay a final tribute to one of Turkish football’s biggest legends, Lefter Küçükandonyadis. The Fenerbahçe icon was not only remembered by his own fans, but by the supporters of the team’s rivals, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş.

Thousands of football fans packed into Istanbul’s Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium yesterday to pay a final tribute to the legendary Lefter Küçükandonyadis.

Fenerbahçe icon Lefter, nicknamed “Ordinaryüs” (distinguished professor), died from heart failure at the age of 86 on Jan. 13, much to the sorrow of millions of football fans in the country.

I am a diehard Galatasaray fan. But just as I loved my hero, Metin Oktay, without watching him play, I loved Lefter like that. My love for him was beyond him being a football icon; I loved him like a family heirloom. I wrote his name next to Metin Oktay in my heart. Kanat Atkaya- Hürriyet

Yesterday, Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium was filled with not only Fenerbahçe fans, but supporters of several other clubs, including the team’s fierce rivals, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş.

Fenerbahçe released a statement calling for “fans of all teams to come to Şükrü Saracoğlu” to pay their final dues to the football legend.

“Today we have fans with many different colors [of jerseys] in the stands,” Fenerbahçe Vice Chairman Ali Koç said at the ceremony yesterday. “Thanks to everyone who came here to share our pain. It is so good to have you all here.”

Apart from the Fenerbahçe board, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is known as a Fenerbahçe supporter, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bağış and Istanbul deputy and former Galatasaray player Hakan Şükür were also present.

Some fans booed Erdoğan, who is not a popular figure among Fenerbahçe fans currently due to the ongoing match-fixing investigation that has especially focused on Fenerbahçe.

The investigation has seen Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and three other club members jailed pending trial and put the team’s 2011 Super League championship in doubt.

Last week while hospitalized, Lefter sent an emotional letter to Yıldırım, saying he “wanted to visit him” in the prison. “[But] damn it, [the doctors] won’t let me.”

One of the most important players in Turkish football history, Lefter, son of a father of Greek descent and a Turkish mother, had many records to his name.

Known for his classy dribbling and scoring abilities, he scored 423 goals in 615 matches during two separate spells at Fenerbahçe between 1947 and 1951 before a second stint from 1953 to 1964.

His transfer to Italian heavyweight Fiorentina in 1951 was the first time an international team paid a Turkish club to sign a Turkish footballer.

He is as holy to Fenerbahçe as the team’s striped jersey. The one who was saying “I am not wearing the jersey on my body, I am carrying it on my head.” The son of a Greek fisherman and a Turkish woman. Turkey’s Lefter. His name will live on in chants. Feridun Düzağaç – Hürriyet

Lefter was the first player to win 50 caps for the Turkish national football team and held the record for the most goals for 33 years.

The current holder of Fenerbahçe’s coveted “number 10,” captain Alex de Souza, attended the ceremony yesterday and said Lefter’s loss “hurt him.”

“I am deeply sorrowed that Lefter passed away,” he said through a translator. “But people like that never die. Big clubs such as Fenerbahçe never let those icons die. I promise that I will never let the jersey, which he wore, down.”

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