FOOTBALL

Turkish football sees Euro 2019 as likely 'fresh start'

Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak says 'dark clouds' over Turkish football will lift if team qualifies for Euro 2019

Anadolu Agency

Sports Minister Osman Askin Bak said on Thursday “dark clouds will be dispersed” if Turkey’s footballers make it to the 2019 Euros.

Answering journalists' questions at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk, Bak said the next European tournament will be a “fresh start” for Turkey if the team can qualify.

"With [Manager Mircea] Lucescu, we could not get the results we wanted in the last four group matches," Bak said. "The friendlies also worried us. I believe we will disperse the dark clouds above us in the European Football Championship."

Bak also said he wanted a "Turkish manager to run the Turkish national football team".

"We have achieved success with Turkish managers before," he said.

Turkey failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia. Lucescu took the helm in Turkey’s last four matches but was unable to take the team to the promised land.

After the group matches, Turkey consecutively lost to Romania and Albania in exhibition matches played in Cluj and Antalya.

- Suleymanoglu the 'Pele, Maradona' of weightlifting

The sports minister also offered his condolences to the family of legendary Turkish weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu, who passed away on Saturday aged 50.

"There is Pele, Ronaldo, Messi, Maradona in football, likewise there is Naim Suleymanoglu in weightlifting," Bak said. "He is a sportsman that broke 46 world records and won three Olympic gold medals, won seven world championships and six European championships."

Regarded as the "Sportsman of the Century", Suleymanoglu set a record with a lift of 190 kilograms (419 pounds) in the clean and jerk in the 1988 Olympics.

Although Suleymanoglu set his first world record when he was 15, he missed his first chance at Olympic success in 1984 when Bulgaria joined the Soviet boycott of the Los Angeles games.

After winning the world championship in 1988, he retired at the age of 22. However, he returned in 1991 to win a second Olympic gold at Barcelona in 1992.

Four years later, he finally retired after winning a third Olympic gold in Atlanta.

In 2000 and 2004 he was elected to the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame.

He was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic movement, in 2001.

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