He returns to “hell” tomorrow, 30 years after leaving the Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul, carrying behind him the disappointment of one of the worst nights in Manchester United’s history of being knocked out of the Champions League. Turkey’s Galatasaray is an exceptional fixture, and another he is trying to avoid going out on.
United enter the competition sitting bottom of Group One, so their campaign could end prematurely if they lose again to the Turkish side, who shocked them by beating them 2-3 at home in the second round.
On November 3, 1993, the “Red Devils” were eliminated from the continental competition (3-3 in the first leg), after being satisfied, they would meet in the fifth and final round. A goalless draw at the club’s Turkish stronghold.
United, coming off a campaign that led to the Premier League title at the time, were hoping to make their first run in the competition longer since 1969, even after settling for a draw at home.
But he did not expect to live in “hell” in Istanbul before his players set foot on the field, with thousands of Galatasaray fans greeting him at the airport with hostile chants and a highly visible banner reading “Welcome to hell”.
United’s manager at the time, Scottish legend Alex Ferguson, described the intimidation he and his players suffered as “the worst hostility and harassment I have ever experienced in my life”.
But United, clearly affected by the volcanic atmosphere at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium, failed to achieve the desired result and Galatasaray equalized as it was only the beginning of the dream. Difference.
As was the case before and during the match, the result was chaotic, with French star Eric Cantona hit with a baton by a Turkish policeman after he was sent off after the final whistle.
United midfielder Bryan Robson tried to save Cantona when he fell on the concrete stairs leading to the dressing room, injuring his arm and requiring 6 stitches.
United midfielder Paul Ince spoke of what he and his teammates experienced that evening, saying, “There was incredible hatred. Even the police started fighting us. I remember one of the police officers hitting Eric on the head.”
For another United player, Gary Pallister, the atmosphere of United’s matches at Anfield, the home of their local rivals Liverpool, seemed like a “tea party” compared to what they experienced at home to Galatasaray.
Stones were thrown at the United bus as it left the stadium, leaving a shocked Ferguson shouting “I don’t want to go there again”.
But he had to return there a year later to meet the Turkish side in the group stage, and he failed to find the net again, settling for a goalless draw, which later contributed to the start of his career by finishing third in the group. Behind Gothenburg, Sweden and Barcelona, Spain.
Galatasaray is a “house of terror” for United, who have failed to win on three visits to the Turkish side’s home ground, the last of which was a clean sheet in the group stage in November 2012.
Despite the closure of the Ali Sami Yen Stadium in 2010, visiting the banks of the Bosphorus remains one of the most difficult tasks in European football.
There is no doubt that Galatasaray’s fans will be no less excited than they were 30 years ago, especially since the team will play Bayern Munich until the quarter-finals of the continental championship, a difficult task on Wednesday in front of more than 52 thousand spectators who will face United very much. .
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