Liverpool take on Trabzonspor in the first leg of the Europa League play-off tie at Anfield this evening – but how much do you know about the Turkish side?
Trabzonspor are one of the most successful teams in Turkish football and hold the record for the amount of Super Lig titles won by any club in the country outside Istanbul.
As Liverpool dominated in Europe between the years of 1976 and 1984, tonight’s opponents enjoyed their own spell of domestic rule, clinching the Turkish Super Lig on six occasions, the Turkiye Kupası (Turkish Cup) eight times and the Presidential Cup seven. In all, the Black Sea Storm harvested a total of twenty nine trophies throughout this eight-year period; however, their league success in 1984 was to be their last as the club has since failed to reclaim the title.
Liverpool met Trabzonspor en route to their first European Cup triumph in 1977 when, after a first leg 1-0 defeat away from home, the Reds blew their Turkish opponents away with three goals in the opening twenty minutes at Anfield. Strikes from Steve Heighway, David Johnson and Kevin Keegan helped the Reds progress to the quarter finals, where on a famous night at Anfield, they would defeat St. Etienne.
Under manager Senol Gunes, who guided Turkey to a third-place finish in the 2002 World Cup, Trabzonspor finished fifth in the Super Lig last season, a point behind Besiktas and 19 behind the champions Bursapor.
Gunes was actually between the sticks for the Trabzonspor team who met Liverpool back in 1976. Recalling their 1-0 first-leg victory, he said: “We had beaten a world football institution. It gave us great belief and we were very proud. That victory was like a miracle back then. Trabzonspor were a newly emerging club on the European stage, while Liverpool were a big club from England – from the birthplace of football.”
As well as turning out over 400 times for Trabzonspor during his playing days as a goalkeeper, Gunes also managed the club on three occasions before being re-appointed in 2009.
30-year-old club captain and Guinean international Ibrahim Yattara, who was subject to interest from Real Madrid throughout the January transfer window in 2009 and whose playing style has previously been compared to that of Ronaldinho by Spanish coach Luis Aragones, will lead Trabzonspor out at Anfield.
Former Liverpool defender Rigobert Song signed for Trabzonspor in 2008 before being released from contract earlier this year – despite being appointed captain upon Guneş’s arrival at the club and helping them to cup success last term.
Gordon Milne, Liverpool’s right-half under Bill Shankly from 1960-67, also spent time at the Huseyin Avni Aker stadium as manager for a year in 1998-99 and helped them to a fourth-place finish.
Trabzonspor are nicknamed ‘Bordo-Mavililer’ – the Maroon-Blues.