Turkey’s most successful club Galatasaray holds a record 19 league titles, a record 14 Turkish Cups and 13 Turkish Super Cups. They famously welcomed Manchester United to Hell in the 1993 Champions League and put the English team through a tortuous stay in the country’s capital. Winners of the UEFA Cup in 2000, the club has dominated football in the transcontinental nation since it formed over 107 years ago in 1905.
The Istanbul derbies with rivals Fenerbache and Besiktas are some of the most intense in world football. In the 1996 Turkish Cup final, the then manager of Galatasaray Graeme Souness ran into the middle of the Fenerbache pitch in a victory celebration and planted a giant red and yellow flag in the centre circle. The fiery Scot enraged the Fenerbache fans and was lucky to get out of the stadium alive.
The club is part of a larger sports club which includes basketball, volleyball, athletics, judo, swimming and bridge. It was founded in 1905 and is named after the Galatasaray High School in the Galatasaray Community – Galatasaray meaning Galata Palace. According to reports, spectators at one of the team’s first matches took to calling them “Galata Sarayı efendileri” – Gentlemen of Galata Palace. They shared their ground with their city rivals when the first stadium was built in Istanbul in 1921. In 1964, the Ali Sami Yen Stadium was opened, named after the club’s founder. The club stayed there until 2002 when they moved into the Attaturk Olympic Stadium which was the site of Liverpool’s dramatic Champions League Cup final comeback against AC Milan in 2005. Gala moved again in 2011 to the Turk Telecom Arena.
Galatasaray first used an eagle with a football in its beak on its club crest before being replaced by the Ghayn-Sin crest in the 1920’s by a student of the High Schoool which gave them their name. Ayetullah Emin used a complicated mathematical formula to draw the interlocking Ottoman letters Gayin – Sin, which were then changed to the Latin alphabet using G and S.
The first Galatasaray club crest.