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Proud as a peacock

Turkey honors Galatasaray for UEFA Cup win

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Posted: Friday May 19, 2000 04:02 PM

  Turkish fans jam the streets to greet members of Galatasaray's UEFA Cup-winning team. AP

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- President Ahmet Necdet Sezer awarded the Galatasaray team a state medal Friday for winning Turkey's first European soccer title.

The club's 4-1 victory over England's Arsenal on Wednesday to claim the UEFA cup stoked enormous national pride. Hundreds of thousands of Turks poured into the streets after the victory to celebrate.

"Beyond the victory on the field, this championship is important for Turkey's promotion," Sezer said as he handed a red box containing the State Medal for Exceptional Service to Galatasaray Club President Faruk Suren.

"You have made our nation happy, you have made us proud, I congratulate you," Sezer said.

The medal is a tribute to people for "advancing national interests." The award ceremony coincided with celebrations marking the start of Turkey's war of independence against invading forces 81 years ago.

Galatasaray's players returned to a hero's welcome in Istanbul from Copenhagen on Thursday.

But celebrations were marred by the death of a one-year-old girl and the wounding of 11 people by stray bullets fired into the air by rejoicing fans.

The victory was also overshadowed by clashes between English and Turkish fans in Copenhagen during which four people were stabbed and tens of others injured.

The clashes were largely blamed on tensions that have been running high since Turks stabbed two English fans to death during a fight before the first-leg semifinal match against Leeds United in Istanbul last month.


 
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