Friday, November 28, 2008
Üzerim'den eksilmesin bayragimin gölgesi
(For those not familiar with Turkish football, there are 3 big teams in Turkish soccer. Besiktas, Galatasary, Fenerbahce, all from Istanbul. I am a Besiktas fan ever since I am aware of my existence)
It was a windy, rainy London Saturday night. I was visiting my sister, before going to Liverpool to watch our Champions League game on Wednesday. I had to watch our derby game against Fenerbahce. We had a record of not losing to them in their own stadium for a long time. I had asked few other Besiktas fans about places to watch the game. Unlike Berlin, where you could literally walk into any betting shop to watch the Turkish league, the options are not that rich in London. Especially if you wanna stay close to the center.
I was informed that a fancy kebab restaurant would be a good choice. I was disappointed to find the restaurant full, and small. I was literally shaking and sweating with anxiety. I rushed to a Internet shop, and began intense Google'ing. I found a reference to an "Turkish Cypriots Cofee" shop in a 4 year old forum post, and decided to try my luck.
The address was some small street in SoHo. I was struggling to find my way in the winding roads, intersecting streets, sex shops and gay bars, when I heard it. Somewhere in the distance, I heard the voices of 2000 souls with whom I shared the love that brought me there in the first place. I could not believe my ears, and thought for a second I was going mad. Thousands of kilometers away from the stadium of 55 000 people, and 2000 people. Yet there was something in the air that solidified the love we shared. I let the chants lead my way and found the cramped local which was just like the stadium dominated by fans of Fenerbahce. They were silent too. Besiktas was leading the game 1-0. And people all round the globe were listening to 2000 brave people silencing 55000 and shouting their love.
We lost the game 2-1 -with one of our goals not being counted unfairly. We went on to lose 8-0 against Liverpool -whom we had beaten 2-1 14 days ago- to go down to the history books. But it was all worth it. This one moment when I first heard the fans chant will be what I remember from this trip. It was a magical moment, that summarizes the beauty of football. To share something with millions of people, no matter how far we are, and how miserable the score is. To love, and to hope.
I saw our players in the airport the day after the 8-0 defeat. They were hanging down their heads. Instead of feeling anger, I felt a deep sense of empathy and forgiveness. I told two young players:
"Don't hang down your heads, raise them. You are players of Besiktas, and should be proud of what you have done 14 days ago, and years of history of Besiktas."
This weekend we play against Fenerbahce. I am not sure what the outcome will be, but I am sure I will hear the same chants, and feel the same way towards the players no matter if we win or lose...