Terim, Fatih (1954–)

views updated

Terim, Fatih

Professional soccer coach and former player Fatih Terim is considered the sport's most successful personality in Turkey. Under his leadership, the soccer team Galatasaray won the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) cup in 2000. As of 2007 he is serving as the Turkish national team head coach, and ranks, according to a survey by the International Federation of Soccer History and Statistics (IFSHS), among the best eight soccer coaches in the world. Terim is praised for his ability to motivate his players and use aggressive game strategies. Because of his wide popularity within Turkish society, various political parties approached Terim to place his candidacy in Turkey's 2007 general elections.


Terim was born on 4 September 1954 in Adana, a town in southeastern Turkey. The eldest son of three children, he experienced a difficult childhood as part of an impoverished family. His father, Talat Terim, was physically disabled, and, as a result, Fatih worked a variety of manual-labor jobs to provide for his family from the time he was six. He learned to play soccer on the streets with other kids, and his father, seeing his talent, prayed for his son to become a famous soccer player. Terim's passion for soccer stands out against his disinterest and failure in school. His father's wish to also have his son graduate from the vocational high school ended with disappointment as Terim dropped out of high school during his second year. In 1969, at age fifteen, he joined the local team Adana Demir Spor as a junior player. Because of his financial situation, the club supported Terim with a monthly salary of 150 Turkish liras and kept this agreement a secret, as none of the other players were paid. Within the next three years, Terim achieved the rank of team captain. He played from 1969 to 1973 with Adana Demir Spor and was discovered in 1972 by the Turkish youth national coach, Gündüz Tekin Onay, who watched him play when Adana Demir Spor defeated Galatasaray.

In 1973 Terim signed a contract with Galatasaray, one of the three best known clubs in Istanbul (along with Beșiktas JK and Fenerbahce SK). French scholars founded the Galatasaray Sports Club in 1905 before Turkey was founded as a modern state in 1923. Terim played for eleven years with Galatasaray, proved himself to be a successful soccer player, and also became the team's captain for eight years. His career as a soccer player lasted from 1969 until 1984.

After leaving behind life as a soccer player, Terim took classes in coaching and accepted his first coaching position with Ankaragücü in 1987. This was followed with positions at Göztepe, Galatasaray, ACF Fiorentina, and AC Milan. In 1990, he accepted the position of assistant coach for the Turkish national team under then head coach Sepp Piontek, a German. In 1993 Terim replaced Piontek as the team's head coach and held this position until 1996. Also in 1996 he returned to Galatasaray and served as that team's coach for four years. Under his leadership, Galatasaray became the first Turkish team to win the UEFA Cup in 2000, and to secure a European title. At the same time, Terim took Galatasaray to a new record of four consecutive championships in the Turkish League during the years 1996 to 2000.


Name: Fatih Terim

Birth: 1954, Adana, Turkey

Family: Wife, Fulya; two daughters, Merve and Buse

Nationality: Turkish


  • 1969–1973: Plays for Adana Demir Spor (Team captain in 1973)
  • 1969–1984: Plays for Turkish national teams; National team, team captain; U 21 national team; and U 19 national team
  • 1973–1984: Plays for Galatasaray (Team captain from 1976–1984)
  • 1987–1989: Coaches Ankaragücü
  • 1989–1990: Coaches Göztepe
  • 1990–1993: Turkish National Team Coach; U 21 national team; and Turkish Olympic national team coach
  • 1993–1996: Coaches Turkish national team
  • 1996–2000: Coaches Galatasaray
  • 2000–2001: Coaches Fiorentina
  • 2001–2002: Coaches Milan
  • 2002–2004: Coaches Galatasaray
  • 2006–present: Coaches Turkish national team

Galatasaray's victory was due in large part to Terim's personal involvement in every aspect of the organization, from affecting player morale to improving the team's financial situation. His team's triumph had a great impact on both the team's and Terim's international reputation. Consequently, Terim received an offer to coach ACF Fiorentina, an Italian team from Florence. He accepted and coached from 2000 to 2001. However, due to disagreements between Terim and the chairs of ACF Fiorentina, he resigned in spring 2001. That same year he became manager of the world-class soccer team AC Milan the same year, the second prominent Italian team to hire Terim. However, as Milan did not rank among the top five of the league, Terim was blamed for the team's failure and was fired by the team's board directors for not fulfilling their expectations. He returned to Turkey and became Galatasaray's head coach from 2002 to 2004. Since 2006 Terim has been the Turkish national team head coach and it is speculated that he will resign from this position in 2008, after the European Cup.


Throughout the history of professional soccer, Turkish clubs have struggled to establish themselves among European competitors, importing many foreign players and coaches to help them emerge successfully on the international stage. In this respect, Terim's impact as a homegrown coach is outstanding. He masterminded the Turkish national team's return to top competition and recognition as a member of Europe's soccer elite in the 1990s. The final game between Arsenal, a London club, and Galatasaray at the UEFA Cup in 2000 attracted, according to the International Herald Tribune, half a billion viewers across 185 nations. Its description regarding the UEFA Cup final is noteworthy: "Giant video screens have been erected in parks; the Turkish Parliament is in abeyance, and the jailed Kurdish rebel Abdullah Öcalan apparently has put at the top of his wish list a television set in his cell so that he can tune into Galatasaray's attempt to become the first Turkish club to win a European title." In this sense, Terim's accomplishments go beyond sports, achieving a mythic status in Turkish popular culture.


Terim's European successes have changed the status of Turkish soccer forever. His contributions as head coach of the Turkish national team and of Galatasaray have garnered Turkey new respect as a force in international sports.


After Galatasaray's triumph at the UEFA cup, Turkey established a new reputation as a formidable soccer team in Europe. With his offensive understanding of soccer, Terim's playing philosophy presents the best Turkish soccer to a European audience. Terim's approach culminates in the idea that one must play positively, attacking soccer for the enjoyment of the fans. His tactics can be seen in his players' offensive approach and slick passing, which are the hallmarks of Turkish soccer. Also, Terim's personality and his insistence on loyalty, honesty, high team morale, and a strong collective team spirit have contributed to the continuous success of his players. Terim's greatest accomplishment is his unique understanding of soccer—as he is able to read and control the game from an outsider's position—his positive dialogue with his players, and his trust in his players to motivate themselves, which all is reflected in the team's success.


Cakit, Ahmet. O bir imperator. Istanbul, Turkey: Altin Kitaplar, 2001.

"Fatih Terim'in Yasamindan kesitler…." Available from http://www.mavilacivert.com/portal.fatihterim.html.

"Fatih Terim." Kim Kimdir. Available from http://www.kimkimdir.gen.tr/.

Hughes, Rob. "European Soccer: After Tragedy, Time for Temperance at UEFA Cup Final." International Herald Tribune 17 May 2000. Available from http://www.iht.com/.

Kola, Necati. Bir syan modeli: Terizm. Cagaloglu, Turkey: Zaman Kitap, 2000.

"Milan." World Soccer: One World, One Game. Available from http://worldsoccer.com/.

"UEFA/CAF Meridian Cup 2005 Turkey." Confederation Africaine de Football. Available from http://www.cafonline.com/.

                                                Mine Eren


Senol Gunes (1952–), also a former soccer player, became the head coach of the Turkish national team in 2000. Under his leadership, Turkey qualified for the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup in 2002 and placed successfully at third position.


Some people ask me what system I play. Is it a Dutch system, a French system, or a Brazilian system? They don't understand. It's none of these—it's the Terim system.