If one team put Turkey on the footballing map, it was Galatasaray. Their march to UEFA Cup glory in 2000, dispatching Leeds United and Arsenal in the process, ranks as the highest achievement ever by any club in Turkey.
It was the culmination of a four-year period in which the domestic scene was dominated by Cimbom (a local nickname, pronounced Djim-bom; don't call them Gala, and split the word after three syllables – Galata-Saraye, meaning 'Palace of Galata').
Under the guidance of Fatih Terim the club sealed four consecutive league titles, two domestic cups and the UEFA Cup. While the man known to locals as the Imparator (Emperor) was the mind behind the masterpiece, the mix of young energy and experience was certainly the driving force.
While Terim took the reins at Fiorentina, Inter Milan wrote a cheque to secure the goalscoring talents of Hakan Sukur – and returned a year later to also snap up Emre Belozoglu and Okan Buruk.
Mircea Lucescu was given the unenviable task of following Terim’s footsteps. Thanks to two goals from record signing Mario Jardel, he got off to the perfect start with a European Super Cup triumph over Real Madrid.
However, promise faded to disappointment as the 2000/01 season ended with arch-rivals Fenerbahce crowned league champions. The club also bade farewell to a legend, with iconic Romanian Gheorghe Hagi announcing his retirement from the game.
Those were the glory years and a decade on the current side are suffering somewhat, with just one domestic cup and three more Super Lig titles. Three out of 10 might not sound bad, but Istanbul is a city of fierce rivalries and Fenerbahce's four titles during that decade allowed the deadly enemies to draw level with Galatasaray as the team to have won the most Turkish league championships: after the 2009/10 season they stood at 17 each, Cimbom having twice in three years drawn level again after Fener went in front.
However, 2011 could be the start of a new era. Hagi has returned as boss and, assisted by fellow legend Tugay Kerimoglu, he (and the fans) will be hoping that the new regime can propel the club towards success both domestically and in Europe once again.
Their renewed hope also stems from a change in location. The Ali Sami Yen stadium, famed for its ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners, hosted its last game in January and Cimbom have now officially moved to their new home at the Turk Telekom Arena.
With a maximum capacity of almost 53,000, more than double that of the Ali Sami Yen, the term ‘Welcome to Hell’ will no doubt take on a whole new meaning. The visits of Fenerbahce and Besiktas will provide more sparks than a pyromaniac's playground.
The Turk Telekom Arena opened its gates in January 2011 with a friendly against Ajax. Located in the Seyrantepe area of Istanbul on the European side, it is most the easiest reached via the city's metro system. Whether you are travelling from Sisli, Mecidiyekoy or Taksim, the Stadium is a stone’s throw from Seyrantepe station. Taxis in Istanbul are also very cheap and easy to get hold of.
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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