Italian job: Montella sends Türkiye to Euro 2024 ahead of 2032 showdown

Having guaranteed their Euro 2024 spot after smashing Latvia 4-0, the Turkish Crescent-Stars secured the opportunity to participate in a major international tournament with an Italian coach, a feat not accomplished in 70 years.

The Italian tactician Vincenzo Montella is steering the Turkish national team through this transformation.

He assumed the mantle of Türkiye’s coach during the nail-biting qualifiers, filling the void that Stefan Kuntz left.

Montella’s meteoric rise has mirrored the legendary Italian coach Sandro Puppo’s triumph seven decades ago when he first guided the Crescent-Stars.

Despite Montella’s seemingly ordinary track record on the grand stage, his recent maneuvers have endeared him to the Turkish faithful.

Türkiye’s Italian head coach Vincenzo Montella shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group D qualification football match against Latvia at the Konya Buyuksehir Belediye stadium, Konya, Türkiye, Oct. 15, 2023. (AFP Photo)

His fresh tactics breathed new life into the Crescent-Stars, securing their spot in Germany with crucial victories over Croatia and Latvia, all within a remarkably short period.

It is worth noting that Türkiye’s initial foray into major international football occurred during the 1954 FIFA World Cup under the guidance of Italian coach Sandro Puppo. Puppo, who took the reins in 1952, notably ousted Spain from the 1954 World Cup with a little help from a draw engineered by a 10-year-old Franco Gemma.

This momentous achievement marked the Crescent-Stars’ maiden journey to the World Cup.

Sandro Puppo’s legacy extended over four distinct periods, guiding the Crescent-Stars in 1952-1954, 1960-1962, 1964-1965 and 1965-1966.

In a long and storied history of Türkiye’s participation in eight major international events (twice in the World Cup and six times in the European Championship), only Italian coaches Sandro Puppo and Vincenzo Montella have managed to steer Türkiye to these prestigious tournaments, setting them apart from their Turkish counterparts.

Following the 1954 World Cup, Italy once again played a pivotal role in Türkiye’s journey to major international tournaments, now under the dynamic leadership of Vincenzo Montella.

Other notable coaches who have contributed to Türkiye’s football history include the legendary Fatih Terim for Euro 1996, Euro 2008 and Euro 2016; Mustafa Denizli for Euro 2000; and Şenol Güneş for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2020.

Each of these mentors has played an indispensable role in propelling Türkiye into the limelight of major international competitions.

At just 49 years of age, Vincenzo Montella has scribed his name into the chronicles of Turkish football history with only two matches under his belt.

He stands as the fifth different coach to steer Türkiye to a major international tournament, an extraordinary feat.

More Italian connection

As fate would have it, Türkiye’s qualification for Euro 2024 under the guidance of an Italian coach aligns seamlessly with the recent approval of their joint hosting bid for Euro 2032 with Italy.

While some may view this confluence as mere coincidence, the Crescent-Stars view it as an opportunity to seize the spotlight on the European stage.

Euro 2032 will unfold on Turkish and Italian soil, marking the sixth time the Euros have been hosted across multiple nations.

Previously, the tournament has graced Belgium and the Netherlands (2000), Austria and Switzerland (2008), Poland and Ukraine (2012) and most recently, Euro 2020, which unfolded across 11 different nations in the summer of 2021.

This edition will see Italy host Euro matches for the fourth time, with Rome’s Stadio Olimpico serving as a prominent venue.

However, this marks Türkiye’s inaugural endeavor in hosting the competition.

The bidding nations have proposed 20 stadiums, with 10 to be chosen to host matches, five per country, by October 2026.

Türkiye’s venues include Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium, set for renovation, the new Ankara Stadium in Ankara and various other locations such as Istanbul, Bursa, Trabzon, Konya, Gaziantep, Eskişehir and Antalya.

Italy’s lineup of venues comprises Milan’s Stadio San Siro – Giuseppe Meazza, Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, and several others, including Bari, Naples, Florence, Turin, Genoa, Verona, Bologna and Cagliari, some of which are scheduled for renovation or are entirely new stadiums.

Both nations have ample experience in hosting major matches and events.

Rome’s Stadio Olimpico hosted four tournament matches during Euro 2020, while Milan’s San Siro and Turin’s Juventus Stadium shared hosting duties at the 2021 UEFA Nations League finals.

Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium recently hosted its second UEFA Champions League final in 2023, and the city’s Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium was the venue for the last-ever UEFA Cup final in 2009.

In a tale of Italian charm, Vincenzo Montella’s guidance and the upcoming hosting of Euro 2032 paint a vibrant and promising picture for Turkish football.

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