I’ve been following Euro 2008 like the rest of the world except where I happen to live. I just finished watching the quarter final game between Turkey and Croatia. I’m still gasping for air after fifteen minutes. Croatia scores in the 118th minute out of possible 120 minutes of regulation and two 15-minute extra time. Croatia is beyond exuberant: coaches, staff, and players are hugging, jumping up and down, kissing – going absolutely crazy. The Turkish players are disheartened but not out. The Croatian players come back to the field just to knock around one more minute while imagining the taste of the champagne in the locker-room because they know they are moving to the semi-finals against Germany.
But the Turkish players had other ideas of their own – like tying the score in the next 1 minute and 30 seconds. Of course this seems impossible to the rest of those watching the game. The broadcaster starts to praise the Turkish players for their valiant efforts, overcoming the loss of their main goalkeeper in the last game, and the crushing loss of their superb Captain less than 10 minutes earlier to injury. It all seemed certain that the brave Turkish team was headed back to Istanbul, coming so close to reaching the semi-finals.
I don’t know what you would call what happened in the last 30 seconds of the game but one would have to consider the word ‘miracle’ and its definition in the dictionary. Perhaps feeling assured and too happy to pay attention, the Croatian defense utterly collapses, allowing The Turks to take one last desperate, almost hopeless chance and shot – Boom! Completing three for three come-from-behind victories. In the penalty kicks, the dynamics of the game was once-again in favor for the Turks – the Croatian team was devastatingly broken down, after we-can-reach-the-sky moments of 2 minutes earlier. From an extreme high to an extreme low in the space of 2 minutes, it took its toll on the Croatian team.
On the other end, the Turkish team was on top of the football universe, despite knowing that if they go to the quarter finals they will not have 4 of its starters including its captain plus their main goalkeeper. But they had momentum, six thousand kilowatts of energy, and the endless possibilities…
Turkey goes three-for-three on the penalty kicks while their goalkeeper saves Croatia’s last desperate penalty shot. How did they do it? Perhaps pure luck, determination, and persistence. Perhaps not. Regardless of how the Turks did it, no screen writer could even have come close to imagining the ending of this game. Yet it happened in real life. Believe in the Turks, I’d say.