19/11/2012 11:24, Report by Nick Coppack
2 of 3 Previous Next 

Irwin on Istanbul '93

Beautiful as it was, on the banks of the Bosphorus, the hotel wasn’t exactly a sanctuary, either. Fans kept managing to get through to our rooms on the telephone, which was unusual. It seemed like every few minutes there’d be another call. It was impossible to get a moment’s peace.

None of that could prepare us for what we experienced when we arrived at the Ali Sami Yen stadium. As the coach pulled up there were people absolutely everywhere. I swear every Galatasaray fan in Turkey had come out for the game. But then we walked inside and the place was already full!

Remember, this was about two hours before kick-off and the place was already rocking. We went for a stroll on the pitch and it was so loud you couldn’t hear the bloke next to you. It was the most atmospheric game, by a distance, that I’d ever been involved in and I still haven’t been to another that comes close.

I’d played at Anfield and Elland Road and I went on to play in places like Greece, but nothing was anything like that night in Istanbul. This was on a whole other level. “Hostile” doesn’t do it justice.

The stands at each end were singing to each other, the crowd were bouncing up and down, there were flares going off... and this was all before the warm-up had even started!

As I mentioned, I don’t recall much about the game. We didn’t take our chances and the referee wasn’t kind to us, but that’s no excuse. The damage had been done in the first leg at Old Trafford.

Not even the final whistle brought respite. We’d drawn 0-0, which meant we’d been knocked out of the competition, but then Eric Cantona was sent off and it all kicked off in the tunnel. We were getting pelted with all sorts of things as we left the pitch and Eric and Bryan

2 of 3 Previous Next 


Premier League