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Turkey amputee team's Euro glory

Turkey
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ESPN FC's Euro 2016 awards

Euro 2016
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 By Eren Sarigul

Turkey's amputee team inspire nation with European Championship win

Turkey celebrate victory in European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) European Championship final
Turkey celebrate victory in European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) European Championship final

Turkey's national amputee football team beat England 2-1 at the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) Championship final on Monday to be crowned champions at the Vodafone Park stadium in Istanbul.

Amputee football has been growing in popularity, especially in Turkey where over 20 clubs exist. Nobody however, quite expected fans to fill the 41,903-seater Vodafone Park stadium.

The Turkey amputee team captured the imagination of a nation let down by the senior national side's failure to get through the World Cup qualifiers just a day earlier against Iceland. It was not so much the defeat but the dispassionate manner of the loss that caused such disappointment in the country but, in total contrast, seeing the amputee side give it their all on the field captivated many fans.

Turkey's Omer Guleryuz celebrates his opening goal in European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) European Championship final
Turkey's Omer Guleryuz celebrates his opening goal in European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) European Championship final

Omer Guleryuz gave the hosts the lead on 15 minutes but England levelled in the last minute of the game with an equaliser from Ray Westbrook.

Turkey captain Osman Cakmak celebrates after his team's last-gasp winner
Turkey captain Osman Cakmak celebrates after his team's last-gasp winner

Amputee games last 50 minutes, split into two 25-minute halves. The final looked destined for extra-time, but Osman Cakmak scored a last-gasp goal just before the final whistle for a dramatic winner.

Turkey celebrate with the trophy in front of a packed Vodafone Park in Istanbul
Turkey celebrate with the trophy in front of a packed Vodafone Park in Istanbul

The European Amputee Championships were held at the Riva Hasan Dogan training grounds and facilities in Istanbul but the final game was moved to the Vodafone Park stadium, the home ground of Istanbul giants Besiktas.

Turkey lift the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) European Championship trophy
Turkey lift the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) European Championship trophy

In total, 12 teams participated in the championship including Belgium, England, France, Georgia, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain and Turkey.

Turkey players salute as they celebrate victory in the final
Turkey players salute as they celebrate victory in the final

Team captain and scorer of the winning goal, Osman Cakmak, lost his leg during an operation in the war against terror. After the game he said: "I wish disability on no one, I wish there were no amputees. I don't want anyone to be an injured war veteran but we wanted to show what we are capable of to the rest of Europe and the world."

Baris Telli celebrates in front of a Turkish flag
Baris Telli celebrates in front of a Turkish flag

Baris Telli added: "When I was four years old I lost my foot chasing a football but I never gave up on my dreams of becoming a footballer."

Rahmi and Osman Cakmak of Turkey embrace after winning the trophy in front of their home fans
Rahmi and Osman Cakmak of Turkey embrace after winning the trophy in front of their home fans

Rahmi Ozcan could not hold back his tears after the game, like Feyyaz Gozuacik he was born missing a leg, but Turkey showed that there can be no barrier to success.

Eren Sarigul covers Turkish football for ESPN and Turkish-football.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_ErenSarigul

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