Turkey are without a win or even a goal in UEFA EURO 2016, but they could still progress from Group D if they beat Czech Republic in Lens on Tuesday.
Perhaps Nihat Kahveci, Tuncay Şanlı and Tümer Metin, now assistants to Fatih Terim, can help invoke the spirit of 2008. All three played in that Alpine tournament, when Turkey staged a memorable comeback from two goals down against the Czechs, winning 3-2 on matchday three.
Captain Nihat beat Petr Čech twice in the last four minutes on that famous night, as Turkey sealed their place in the last eight en route to the semi-finals. Tuncay, not content with his energetic play up front, even put on the gloves to replace goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, who was sent off in stoppage time after Turkey had used all their substitutions.
They are just the characters needed to lift the current team. “I have always liked giving chances to young coaches or former players in the back-room staff,” said Terim. “This time I made a surprise choice. They were my players, they are worthy of this and now they are my colleagues.”
Nihat, who scored 76 goals in 195 Spanish Liga games for Real Sociedad and Villarreal, ended a successful career in 2011.
Tümer, who played for Istanbul giants Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe as well as Larissa in Greece, is now a successful pundit in Turkey.
Tuncay, the 22-goal second-top scorer for Turkey after Hakan Şükür, had spells in the Premier League and Bundesliga before playing in the Indian Super League.
Terim speaks highly of the trio’s contributions to the squad here. “They are really important for communicating with the players, since they are closer to their ages. For the players it is easier to understand them,” the coach said.
“I always like to give chances to young players, and now to give a chance to young coaches. They have brought a different colour, energy and dynamism to the side and I am very happy about it.”
Midfielder Selçuk İnan agrees, saying: “They are players who have experienced this tournament. In fact, they were successful in it. Thankfully they have talked about their experience with us and our team-mates. This was important to us.”
In France, Turkey are very far from emulating the heroes of 2008. But if they manage to turn things around again, Nihat, Tuncay and Tümer will surely get some credit.