It was an emotional farewell for players and fans of Galatasaray last night. For the last time the Cimbom family was together in the Ali Sami Yen Stadium for the last match in their old home. And finally the team won a match again: 3-1 against third division Beypazarı Şekerspor in Group A of the Ziraat Turkish Cup.
Celebrations accompanied the end of the 47 year old stadium in the busy Şişli neighborhood, now part of Istanbul’s city center.
There were fireworks in the club colors yellow and red, mass ballet on the field, a lot of flags, music, a light show and of course tears.
Dubbed “hell” by opposing teams, the Galatasaray stadium was inaugurated in 1964 and named after Galatasaray founder Ali Sami Yen. On Saturday the club will move to its newly constructed ultramodern venue — the Türk Telekom Arena (Aslantepe) at Seyrantepe in another part of Şişli.
The legendary stadium enabled Galatasaray to win the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in 2000, a total of 17 league titles and Turkish Cups, 11 Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Super Cups, 12 Sports Writers (TSYD) Cups, five Chancellor Cups and the 50th Year Cup (1973).
The stadium didn’t make the fans happy in the current season. Their heroes were beaten at home 1-2 by Beşiktaş. Coach Frank Rijkaard was send away. But Romanian coach Gheorghe Hagi couldn’t turn their chances around. The team with captain Arda even lost its last league match at Ali Sami Yen against Ankara’s Gençlerbirliği 0-2. Galatasaray is number 5 in the league at the moment, 19 points behind leader Trabzonspor.
The fans, the coach and the management all hope that their new stadium, the Türk Telekom Arena (Aslantepe) at Seyrantepe, will be a new beginning. A venue were they will be able to celebrate great championships again.