Thousands bid farewell to Turkish football star

About 10,000 people, including fans from several Turkish clubs,

bid farewell on Sunday to Lefter Kucukandonyadis, one of Turkey’s

top football players, who has died at 86.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s

EU minister, atended the funeral ceremony at Fenerbahce’s Sukru

Saracoglu Stadium. Kucukandonyadis died of pneumonia Friday in

Istanbul.

Midfielder Emre Belozoglu and other Fenerbahce players carried

his coffin, draped in Turkish and Fenerbahce flags, to the pitch

before the crowd observed a minute of silence in his memory.

Kucukandonyadis was the captain of Turkey’s national team,

making 46 appearances for his country. His club career included

Fenerbahce, where he scored 423 goals in 615 games.

Fenerbahce fans who had no doubt that Lefter could turn every

opportunity into a goal, often shouted: ”give it (the ball) to

Lefter, let him write it (the score) down in the book,” Fenerbahce

said on its website.

Born in 1925 in Istanbul to a fisherman father from Turkey’s

minority Greek community, Kucukandonyadis was the first player from

Turkey to play abroad. He transferred to Italy’s Fiorentina in 1951

followed by a spell with Nice in France.

After his retirement in 1966, Kucukandonyadis coached clubs in

Greece, South Africa and Turkey.

Kucukandonyadis was buried in the island of Buyukada near

Istanbul, where he was born.