Turkey seemed to move under the radar in the previous decade, racking up an impressive pair of notable semifinals, yet unable to progress into the final on both occasions. The 2002 World Cup saw the Turks fall short against eventual winners Brazil. The 2008 Euro semi nearly turned out differently. But once again, Turkey went home heartbroken.
Uğur Boral gave the underdogs a surprising lead, but Germany struck back quickly, through Bastian Schweinsteiger. The two sides were throwing everything at each other and it’s possible that the usually wily German coach Joachim Löw underestimated the opposition: Germany was without four injured, and four suspended, players. But the replacements were fit and raring to go, using the wings to effect. But it was the favored Mannschaft who took a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to play. Philip Lahm’s deep cross deceived Turkish goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber, leaving the predatory Miroslav Klose to head into the empty net. Yet Turkey was hardly going to fade away quietly. Euro 2008 had already seen the Turks score late goals against Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia. So it was hardly a surprise when Semih Şentürk scored with four minutes to play. Extra-time was almost upon us but the ever reliable Thomas Hitzlsperger teed up Lahm for the last-gasp match-winner.