President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has showered praise on the Turkish national football team for their valiant effort at the Euro 2024 in Germany.

He lauded the national team as “our champions” after a narrow 2-1 defeat against the Netherlands in the European championships quarterfinals.

Erdoğan visited the team post-match late Saturday in the dressing room in Berlin’s Olympiastadion. He had flown in for the match together with the first lady Emine Erdoğan.

“I congratulate all of you. You are our champions regardless of today’s result,” Turkish media quoted Erdoğan as telling the players.

Erdoğan said the team has potential and “we will continue this work in the future.”

The president shook hands with all players, including defender Merih Demiral, who missed the match due to a controversial two-game suspension imposed by the ruling body UEFA for making a Turkic wolf salute after scoring in the last-16 match against Austria.

Erdoğan said earlier in the week that Demiral had only shown his “enthusiasm” with the gesture.

Turkish team manager Hamit Altıntop told Magenta TV that the wolf salute affair was not the reason why Erdoğan had come.



President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan talks to national team captain Hakan Çalhanoğlu after the Türkiye vs. Netherlands Euro 2024 quarterfinals match, Berlin, Germany, June 6, 2024. (DHA Photo)

“It was already agreed beforehand that our head of state wanted to come to this match. That has nothing to do with the incident or UEFA’s decision,” Altıntop said.

The wolf salute is wrongly attributed, among other things, to a far-right extremist movement in the West.

Türkiye leave Euro 2024 having laden the tournament with their spirit and energy and won the hearts of football lovers all over the world, coach Vincenzo Montella said after the match against the Dutch.

“Since the start of the championship, our team spirit and the support of our fans were unparalleled. We are very proud. The way our team played, interpreted and adapted to the game was great. We had a dream and we were very close to it,” Montella told reporters.

“We need to protect the way we play and our character as a team and take it to the next Championships,” the Italian added.

Türkiye took the lead in the 35th minute after the Dutch failed to clear a corner, leaving Arda Güler to cross perfectly to the back post for defender Samet Akaydın to head home.

Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij equalized with a powerful header in the 70th minute, however, before an own goal by Mert Müldür completed the Dutch comeback.


Türkiye coach Vincenzo Montella, Kenan Yildiz and Arda Güler look dejected after the Türkiye vs. Netherlands Euro 2024 quarterfinals match, Berlin, Germany, June 6, 2024. (Reuters Photo)
Türkiye coach Vincenzo Montella, Kenan Yildiz and Arda Güler look dejected after the Türkiye vs. Netherlands Euro 2024 quarterfinals match, Berlin, Germany, June 6, 2024. (Reuters Photo)

Proud to show spirit

Türkiye’s memorable run at Euro 2024 included three wins and eight goals.

“We must be proud of our team. They played with great spirit, with Turkish spirit, so we feel the love of the Turkish people and I am proud of them. We deserve it,” Montella said.

“After these Euros, Türkiye will be seen with different eyes in the future, probably with more respect,” he added.

“The players have acquired a lot of experience. For how we played and what we showed. There is a great sympathy in Türkiye for this team and by other football lovers in other countries. This is just the foundation, we need to keep growing. The future is on our side,” he said.

Montella also praised the Turkish fans for creating a home atmosphere in Berlin, where some 200,000 people with Turkish roots live.

Turkish fans were the majority at the Olympiastadion. “The atmosphere is always like home. They supported us until the end, but this pride, this passion toward the team has been seen from day one, not only during matches,” Montella said.

“What makes me really proud is seeing that even after the defeat the people showed love for what we showed during the tournament. That gives me a lot of joy. We need to keep fuelling this passion with our performance. Then you can either win or lose.”

“We need to keep growing, keep improving, because the future is on our side,” said Montella.

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