Some people say three’s a crowd. Try telling that to the inhabitants of Istanbul, and in particular, the fans of Besiktas Jimnastik Kulübü.
The club have always played third fiddle to their city rivals Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, but if there is one thing Besiktas don’t do, it’s go down without a fight!
Believe it or not, the Black Eagles' best years were provided by an Englishman. Playing a very English (and therefore alien) 4-4-2 reliant on wingers and aerial supremacy, Gordon Milne led the club to three consecutive league titles in the early 90s, when his side became the first team to go a season undefeated. It is a record that remains unmatched to this day.
Sadly for the club, Milne left in 1994 and just one title followed in the 1990s – but it wasn’t for lack of trying. If it hadn’t been for arguably the best Galatasaray side in history mopping up four consecutive Super Lig titles, Besiktas would no doubt have added more trophies to their cabinet.
Galatasaray and Fenerbahce dominated the league through the turn of the millennium and it wasn’t until 2003 that Besiktas could once again celebrate. The timing was immaculate, with the Black Eagles achieving a club dream when they were crowned league champions in the club’s centenary year – a feat that is valued as high as any achievement in Turkish football.
The man behind the success was Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, but in 2004 Lucescu parted company with the club and was replaced by Vicente Del Bosque.
Coming from Real Madrid with two Champions Leagues won, the big man was under pressure from the start. Despite their coach’s formidable reputation, Besiktas once again struggled and promptly dismissed the Spaniard after a turbulent spell.
It wasn't until Mustafa Denizli took over in 2008 that the club remembered that winning feeling. Denizli took the club to a league and cup double – and in doing so became the only coach in history to win the league with Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. It would be a bittersweet feeling for the former national team coach as he was forced to step down as boss after a health scare in June 2010.
While success on the pitch is not always a guarantee, in the stands Besiktas can claim to be number one. The renowned Carsi fan group – check them out on YouTube – have set the bar very high for organised chanting and their reputation is by no means an exaggeration.
There is really no better place to be on derby day with the sun setting over the Bosphorus. Come prepared to cheer your hearts out!
The Inonu stadium is without a doubt Istanbul’s most picturesque ground. Overlooking the Bosphorus, the strait of water that separates Europe from Asia, the 32,000 capacity crowd certainly do it justice. Located right opposite Dolmabache Palace, the Inonu is walking distance from Taksim Square and can also be accessed by boat if travelling from the Asian side.
Explore Istanbul with our interactive map – click, drag and zoom
Guide by Sefa Atay, who writes our regular blog Turkish Delights
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