Guiza signals Fener ambition
Dani Guiza's decision to join Fenerbahce certainly raised a few eyebrows across the Old Continent. Top scorer in La Liga and a UEFA EURO 2008 winner with Spain, the former Real Mallorca forward has been courted by Europe's leading clubs.
Nevertheless, was it really a surprise to see this accomplished goal poacher moving to Istanbul? Not only has the top flight of Turkish football now established itself as one of Europe's elite leagues, but Fener is one of the country's most popular clubs and has a reputation for attracting big-name strikers. Whether seeking a springboard to further their career or seduced by the football fanaticism that abounds on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, numerous foreign sharpshooters have joined the club's unceasing quest for silverware.
Brazilian forward Eder paved the way in the eighties. With 52 caps for the Seleção, the temperamental striker turned out for 15 clubs in his career, all but two of them in his homeland. He joined Fenerbahce for a brief spell in 1989, but was unable to rediscover the form which had earned him a place in one of the most talented Brazil squads in history, during the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain™.
Fans had to wait for the 1995-96 season for the Sari Kanaryalar (Yellow Canaries) to pin their offensive hopes on another internationally renowned striker, this time in the form of strong-running Englishman Dalian Atkinson. Although the former Aston Villa forward's route to the national team had always been blocked by the likes of Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley, a knack for spectacular solo efforts saw his fame extend beyond English shores. During his one season in Turkey, the livewire centre-forward scored 10 goals in 21 matches for the Canaries.
Under Okocha's spell
Since then, a succession of goal-scoring superstars have been lured to the eastern side of the Bosporus. Bulgarian Emil Kostadinov arrived in 1996, having just clinched the UEFA Cup with Bayern Munich, and was soon joined by Nigeria's attacking midfielder Augustine Okocha. In two seasons, 'Jay Jay' clocked up 30 goals and became the darling of the supporters with his thunderous strikes and mazy dribbles. Surprisingly, although Okocha believes he played the best football of his career in Turkey, the midfield maestro left the Super Lig without having won a single title.
While fond memories of the gifted Nigerian would linger long in the hearts of the fans, his strike record was soon eclipsed by his successors. In the summer of 1998, Romania's Viorel Moldovan took over the reins in attack, partnered by South Africa's John Moshoeu, who had arrived six months earlier. Even though the former scored 33 times in 53 matches, and the latter 15 times in 75 outings, their firepower failed to earn the club any more trophies.
Another talented front pairing left a more lasting impression early in the new millennium. Sweden's Kennet Andersson picked up the gauntlet in the autumn of his career, having enjoyed success in France and Italy and been among the top scorers at USA 1994. The towering targetman was supported by Israeli creator Haim Revivo, famous for his predatory finishing and dead ball mastery. Together, they helped get Fener back to winning ways as Turkish league champions in 2001.
The duo left Fenerbahce in 2002 and were immediately replaced by another showpiece striker with world-class dribbling skills, Argentina's Ariel Ortega. However, disappointment was to follow as El Burrito quit Turkey after only 15 matches without honouring his four-year contract. The mercurial Argentinian's premature exit cost him a one-year suspension from football and made him an object of scorn in Kadikoy, the district of Istanbul where the club is located.
Saint-Pierre makes his mark
Despite this acrimonious episode, the 17-time Turkish champions lost no time in attracting further star forwards to the Sukru Saracoglu stadium. Between 2003 and 2005, Dutch danger man Pierre van Hooijdonk became a big hit with the fans, notching up 32 strikes in 52 matches.
The former Celtic forward ended his prolific two-year tenure having won two national championships and earned himself the moniker Aziz Pierre (Saint-Pierre). As the next foreign import in attack, Nicolas Anelka was less incisive than his team-mate from the Netherlands. Despite being played out of position on the right wing, the Frenchman's flair and unflinching commitment earned him plaudits from supporters.
A similar level of adulation would be appreciated by Guiza, who has been called upon to keep alive Fenerbahce's tradition for exceptional foreign strikers. With Serbia's Mateja Kezman and Brazil's Deivid already in the starting blocks, the race is on to become the club's latest attacking icon.