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Galatasaray legends to take on World XI in friendly

Galatasaray enjoyed major successes, including the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup titles, thanks to the left-footed magician, Georghe Hagi, who signed for the Lions in 1996, following a two-year stint at FC Barcelona.
Galatasaray enjoyed major successes, including the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup titles, thanks to the left-footed magician, Georghe Hagi, who signed for the Lions in 1996, following a two-year stint at FC Barcelona.

Alex de Souza and Georghe Hagi, two of the best foreign footballers ever to play in Turkey, will face each other in a friendly match, organized to celebrate the 17th anniversary of Galatasaray winning the UEFA Cup title in 2000

Two of the best foreign footballers ever to have graced the Turkish Super League, Georghe Hagi and Alex de Souza will face each other for the first time in a friendly match on May 17, organized to celebrate the 17th anniversary of Galatasaray winning the UEFA Cup title in 2000. With fans of Turkey's two biggest clubs and traditional archrivals, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, still arguing over who is the all-time best, Alex or Hagi, the event will include some other big names from Turkish football. Fenerbahçe fans adored Alex de Souza, who wore their jersey for eight long years, before he was shown the door by club chairman Aziz Yıldırım, in the fallout from an altercation.Galatasaray, on the other hand, enjoyed major successes, including the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup titles, thanks to the left-footed magician, Georghe Hagi, who signed for the Lions in 1996, following a two-year stint at FC Barcelona.

In Istanbul, he was very successful and became extremely popular among the club supporters. Hagi was an important member of the team that won four consecutive league titles. In 2000, at the age of 35, Hagi was at the pinnacle of his career, winning every possible trophy with Galatasaray. They won the UEFA Cup, after defeating Arsenal in the final, a match in which Hagi was sent off for punching Arsenal captain Tony Adams. The UEFA Cup win was followed by the capture of the European Super Cup title, with a historic win against Hagi's former club Real Madrid.

Both feats were firsts for a Turkish team and remain unmatched to this day. The wins prompted mass celebrations in Istanbul and raised Hagi's popularity even further. Hagi retired in 2001 and remains one of the most loved and revered players in Turkey and Romania. After all, his arrival to Galatasaray, had given birth to the classic chant "I Love You Hagi!"

As for Alex, he arrived at Fenerbahçe from Cruzeiro in 2004. The Yellow Canaries star picked up the captain's armband in 2007. In the 2010-2011 season he helped Fenerbahçe claim the league title, as he hit the net 28 times. On Sep. 15, 2012, a statue of Alex, funded by Fenerbahçe fans, was unveiled in Istanbul's Kadıköy Yoğurtçu Park. However, following a rift with then coach Aykut Kocaman, his contract with Fenerbahçe was terminated on Oct. 1, bringing his impressive Fenerbahçe career that included 136 assists and 171 goals in 341 games, to an end.

Now, these two legendary stars of the Turkish Super League will face each other for the first time in the May 17 friendly, jointly organized by Galatasaray and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Galatasaray have reportedly requested Alex de Souza to play for the World XI, in the anniversary match and according to reports on Turkish language daily, Sabah, he has accepted the offer. In the match, the Galatasaray will be consist of former footballers who were part of the UEFA Cup winning squad and Hagi will put on the Galatasaray jersey after 16 years. Alongside Alex de Souza, other stars including Drogba, Elmander and Galatasaray's current coach Igor Tudor will play for World XI. Turkey's national football team coach Fatih Terim, who was the coach of the Galatasaray team that won the UEFA Cup, will also be present as the guest of honor.