Terim relishing Milan test
27.9 || Kenneth
Fatih Terim has been a football deity in his native Turkey for as long as he can remember. Now he is warming eagerly to his latest challenge – bringing the glory days back to Milan AC.
The 48-year-old coach took charge of the northern Italian giants this summer, the latest port of call in a splendid career on and off the field. An admirable central defender and sweeper over 18 years with Adanademirspor and Galatasaray SK, he played 473 matches in the Turkish first division. Terim was a stalwart for the Turkish national team as well, winning 71 international caps and wearing the captain’s armband 35 times.
After finally calling time on his days as a player, Terim coached MKE Ankaragücü (1988/89) and Göztepe (1989/90), before taking over the Turkish Under-21 side in 1990. He became assistant to then-national coach Sepp Piontek, before assuming the helm of the Turkish national team in 1993. “It was a great honour to coach my country,” says Terim, whose respected status is such that he was a guest of UEFA at the recent Elite Coaches Forum in Geneva.
Place in Turkish football history
He assured himself of a place in Turkish football history, as well as the eternal gratitude of Turkey’s devoted and demanding football public, by leading the side to a longed-for major tournament final round – EURO 96™ in England. Although the three games brought no goals and no points, Terim looks back without regrets. “It’s certainly one of my most memorable experiences as a coach, and it came during a period when football in Turkey was on a continual rise,” he says.
Marvellous Galatasaray journey
Terim then returned to club football with Galatasaray SK. Over the next four years, he took the Istanbul club and its enthusiastic followers on a marvellous journey. Four Turkish championships, two domestic cups – and the crowning glory on an exciting night in Copenhagen in May 2000, when Galatasaray clinched Turkey’s first-ever European trophy, the UEFA Cup, in a nail-biting shoot-out victory against Arsenal FC. “An extremely exciting time for me and for Turkish football,” he remembers. “Nobody ever thought for years that we might get so far.”
Move to Serie A
Terim’s triumphs earned him the opportunity to move into Serie A in Italy. After a brief spell with Fiorentina AC, he has been given the daunting, yet doubtless stimulating mission of leading Milan into what the rossoneri and their supporters hope will be a new and exciting era.
Terim, who was born in Adana on 14 September 1953, began his coaching career in his mid-thirties, which has advantages and disadvantages. “When I stopped playing, I wanted to rest a little while, but a lot of important football people in Turkey said that I should go into coaching.”
“If you start coaching soon after playing, it’s actually a big advantage, because you don’t lose your focus and concentration as far as the game is concerned,” Terim adds. “And when you are young, if you want to do something, you go ahead and do it. In many ways it’s not easy to coach players when you’re younger – one day you’re a player, and suddenly, you’re a coach. But, in general, I’m a leader, so I was able to adapt.”
Club and country
What does Terim feel is the main difference between coaching a club and looking after a national team? “A national team does not play every week, it only plays every one or two months, whereas a club team might play every three days – and that’s a very big difference for a coach,” he says. “A club coach might have a maximum of 30 players – I have 26 at Milan at the moment – while, as a national-team coach, you can take as many players as you want, when you want.”
The vastly experienced Terim also says that good coaches can always adapt to every situation. “It’s also important to talk face-to-face to people,” he says. His obvious goal this season is to restore Milan’s status to the level of the most recent golden era just over a decade ago. “I think we will be successful at Milan this year, and everyone at this great club wants success,” he says. “As for myself, I remain ambitious, because it’s important for everyone to continue to have ambitions. Then, one day, I will perhaps go back to Turkey and play a role in further developing the country’s football.”
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