Saturday, April 23, 2016

23 April 1923 - The Young Turks

On 23 April 1923, the Turkish Football Federation formed, creating a national team that would become a force in Europe and eventually reach third place in the World Cup.

Shortly after formation, Turkey joined FIFA, but did not qualify for a World Cup until 1950. They withdrew from that tournament, however, claiming they could not afford to send their team to Brazil for the competition. They did show up in 1954, but were eliminated in a first-round playoff by eventual champions West Germany.

Turkey did not participate in another World Cup until 2002, when they stunned observers by taking third place. Their run in the tournament included wins over China (3-0 in the group stage), co-hosts Japan (0-1 in the Round of 16), and Senegal (0-1 in the quarterfinals) before a second 1-0 loss to Brazil (who had beaten them by the same score in the group stage) sent them to the third-place match. There, they downed the other co-hosts, South Korea, 2-3, in a dominant performance that belies the close margin of victory.

Since 1962, Turkey has been a member of UEFA and has qualified for the European Championship in 1996, 2000, and 2008. In the latter, they advanced to the semifinals with electrifying wins over the Czech Republic and Croatia before losing to Germany.

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