On Tuesday evening Galatasaray, a Turkish soccer team, squared off against a German team, Shalke, in the 2nd game of their two game series. Since the first game ended in a 1-1 tie, the winner would advance closer to the Champion’s League Championship therefore making quite an important game not only for Galatasaray fans but for just about any Turk considering it isn’t every day a Turkish team makes it this far in the Champion’s League playoffs.
Earlier in the day at the Grand Bazaar Ken, the coolest 70-something year old man I’ve ever met in my life who is helping us on our travels, described the significance of the game, as he is quite the die-hard Galatasaray fan. Upon seeing a team jersey for only 20 Lyra immediately following our conversation, Ken, Massum, and I all bought jerseys and resolved to find a good place to watch the game later on in the evening.
When we arrived at the hookah lounge in our Galatasaray jerseys at 8:30 for the 9:05 game, we were instantly greeted with smiles and cheers for Galatasaray. Many were shocked that Americans knew who Galatasaray was, let alone owned jerseys; therefore we quickly made a lot of Turkish friends.
Immediately after the game started, the volume in the lounge surged as the players in gold and garnet darted across the field. The whole café was bursting with shouts and cheers for each Galata goal and was suddenly silent for each Shalke goal. We shared each nail-biting moment with our non-English speaking counterparts with friendly gestures and smiles. While the entire game was exciting, the most amazing moment came with 10 seconds remaining in the 90 +5 minute where the score was tied 2-2. Galatasaray got the ball and with only 10 seconds remaining scored to win 2-3.
You would have thought that Ataturk had been raised from the dead; the Turks and we were jumping up and down screaming like lunatics. As we walked out of the lounge to start our walk back to the hotel shouts of “Galatasaray!” and other exclamations could be heard throughout the streets of Istanbul. This was easily the most interactions I’ve had with Turks since we’ve been here and easily the most exciting soccer game that I have ever seen.