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Lefter Küçükandonyadis ( , Lefteris Antoniadis), born 29 January 1925 in Istanbulmarker, is a Turkishmarker football player who is recognised as one of the greatest footballers to play for Turkeymarker. At the height of his career in the 1950s, he was regarded as one of the best players in the world.

Early life and club career

Born as the son of a fisherman of Greek descent and a Turkish mother, he grew up with ten other brothers and sisters. He started his footballing career with Taksimspor, a club based in Istanbul. Küçükandonyadis transferred to Fenerbahçemarker in 1947, achieving instant success. He was the first Turkish footballer to play abroad, playing during 1951-1953 for ACF Fiorentina in Italymarker and OGC Nice in Francemarker. Returning to Fenerbahçe, he won two Istanbul League titles and later, after the start of the Turkish national league, three Turkish League (1959, 1961 and 1964) championship titles. In the season 1953-1954, he was the top scorer in the Turkish league. Küçükandonyadis scored in all a total of 423 goals in 615 games for Fenerbahçe. After ending his career in Turkey in 1964, Küçükandonyadis played a single season in Greece with AEK Athens. He participated in five games in the 1965 season scoring two goals before an injury in the match against Iraklis forced his retirement.

National football team

He played 50 times for the Turkish national football team, 9 of them as the captain. He also played at the 1954 World Cup netting in 2 goals, one against West-Germany and one against South-Korea. He scored 20 goals for his national team and was the top scorer for Turkey till overtaken by Hakan Şükür. He was the first Turkish football player to receive the "Golden Honor medal" from the Turkish Football Federation.

After active football

Lefter coached Egaleo F.C. in Greecemarker and Supersport United in South Africa. He later returned to Turkey and coached the clubs Sivasspor, Samsunspor, Orduspor, Mersin Idmanyurdu and Boluspor.

Honours

Fenerbahçemarker

Trivia

  • A center forward, he was called the “ordinary professor” (Turkish: “ordinaryus” - the word had been used in Turkey for the most qualified professors, different than its worldwide usage-) for his assured finishing. In popular imagination, he is said to have never missed a penalty (while he has actually lost 3 during his career). A street on the island Büyükadamarker in Istanbul, the largest one of the Princes' Islandsmarker, where he lives is named after him.


  • There is a very well known chant sung by Fenerbahçe supporters, 'Ver Leftere, yaz deftere', which loosely translated means, 'Pass Lefter the ball and it's in the books'.


  • Lefter was a part of the Turkey squad that had beaten the magical squad of Hungarymarker with Ferenc Puskás in the late 50's. He netted in 2 goals alongside with teammate Metin Oktay to win 3-1. After the match the Hungarians admitted that they lost against a good footballing side, it was said if they had played like this at the World Cup a few years earlier they could have finished in the top 4 of the tournament.


References




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