One of the greatest Turkish football legends, Metin Oktay, also known as the “Uncrowned King” is being commemorated Sunday on the anniversary of his tragic death.
Oktay was born Feb. 2, 1936 in the Agean Turkish province of Izmir and his professional football career began with Izmirspor where he played from 1954 to 1955.
In 1955, the 19-year-old moved to the Turkish giants, Galatasaray, on a five-year contract in exchange for a car.
Oktay crowned league’s top scorer six times
Oktay left his mark on the Lions’ history with his pure skills on the green field.
Although his was young, he managed to be a top scorer six times in the Turkish league.
He scored 11 goals in the league when it was first organized in 1959, and produced 33 and 36 goals, respectively, in the 1960 and 1961 campaigns.
The legendary forward was again the top scorer in 1963 and 1965, producing 38 goals each.
Meanwhile, Oktay was the player to score the most goals with 38 in 1963 as well. But, another Galatasaray legend, Tanju Colak, became the new holder of the record with 39 goals in the 1987-1988 season.
Oktay finally became the top scorer with 17 goals in 1969 when the Lions clinched the league title.
He was one of the best finishers to score 217 goals in the Turkish league.
In addition to club performance, Oktay made 40 appearances, netting seven goals for the Turkish national team.
Italy days, nicknamed ‘Uncrowned King’
Italian side Palermo transferred him in 1961 after his successful tenure with the Lions.
When playing for Palermo he scored three goals in 12 appearances.
Oktay, who returned to Turkey in 1962, spent seven years with Galatasaray before retiring in 1969.
He was also a crucial player for derby matches against Istanbul sides Fenerbahce and Besiktas.
During a derby against Fenerbahce in the Turkish league final in 1959, Oktay hit the ball hard enough to rip the net.
The Yellow-Canaries let in 18 of his goals, while he scored 13 against another city-rival, the Black-Eagles.
He was named as the Uncrowned King — Tacsiz Kral in Turkish — when helped the Lions claim five league titles, four Turkish Cup trophies and two Presidency Cups.
Oktay also appeared as a headliner in the 1965 movie, “Tacsiz Kral,” about his life and career.
The Lions legend actively played football between 1954 and 1969, while he scored 314 goals in 354 matches during his career.
Following his retirement, Oktay was appointed assistant coach and head coach of Galatasaray and he also managed Bursaspor for several years.
Apart from coaching, he worked as a sports writer and a football analyst for the Turkish daily, Milliyet.
Galatasaray named the club’s training facility and sports complex Metin Oktay Sports Complex and Training Center, in Florya, Istanbul in a tribute.
Oktay died in a car accident in Istanbul on Sept. 13, 1991. He was 55.
Galatasaray announced he would be memorialized at 0800 GMT Sunday at his grave in Topkapi Kozlu Cemetery in Istanbul.
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