Comeback kings keep dream alive
Turkey are living a charmed life at the UEFA EURO 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland.
The team coached by former AC Milan boss Fatih Terim qualified for the semi-finals of the competition for the first time following their penalty shoot-out victory over Croatia on Friday.
And it came about after their third improbable comeback in a row.
Turkey were staring down the barrel of elimination at half-time of their second group game against Switzerland, trailing 1-0. But the Turks roused themselves after the break and turned it around to win 2-1 and stay alive.
In the next match, an all-or-nothing clash against the Czech Republic, Turkey found themselves 2-0 down halfway through the second period but mounted a stunning rise from the ashes to turn that into a last gasp 3-2 win.
And that never say die spirit continued until the last minute of extra-time against Croatia. Turkey had been second best during a largely dour affair, concentrating more on stifling the Croats rather than going for broke.
Their resistance seemed to crumble in the 119th minute as Ivan Klasnic gave Croatia the lead but Turkey finally threw caution to the wind and charged up the other end straight from the kick-off for substitute Semih Senturk to crash home the equaliser with the last kick of the match.
It was such a stunning moment that the entire Turkish bench erupted and ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their incredulous players. Such was their amazement that more players on the pitch ran to the bench than to the goalscorer.
Then came the drama of penalties and while the Turkish nerves never wavered - they converted three out of three - the Croats disintegrated and missed three of four to hand the semi-final spot to their opponents.
"We again showed that we're a team that's certainly not yet mature but on the right track," gasped Hamit Altintop. "It's the third time we've made a comeback. If we carry on like this, everything is possible."
It is the kind of run that evokes suggestions of fate playing its hand and but for their next opponents being Germany, a place in the final would seem likely.
But Germany were the team to break Turkish hearts the last time they made a fairytale run to the last four of a major competition. That was the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ but the difference there was that Turkey somehow benefited from all the shocks in that tournament to have the most incredible run of matches.
They won four games but the teams on that list - Japan, Korea Republic, China and Senegal - would hardly strike fear into the world.
This time around, though, they're not getting the benefit of the luck of the draw and yet still the dream goes on.
However, with the previously out-of-sorts Germany lying in wait it seems that maybe fate has other ides. Germany and Italy seem fated to meet in the final having both struggled to begin with but looking more convincing at the business end of things.
Even if that is the case, Turkey's rollercoaster ride to the semis at least will long live on in the memory.