Gençlerbirliği Spor Kulübü (pronounced Turkish pronunciation: [ɟentʃˈlæɾbiɾli.i]), commonly known simply as Gençlerbirliği, is a Turkish sports club based in Ankara. Formed in 1923, Gençlerbirliği are nicknamed Ankara Rüzgârı (The Wind of Ankara) or simply Gençler (The Youth). The club colours are black and red. The football team currently plays its home matches at Eryaman Stadium, following the closure of the Ankara 19 Mayıs.
|Full name||Gençlerbirliği Spor Kulübü|
|Nickname(s)||Gençler (The Youth)|
Ankara Rüzgârı (The Wind of Ankara)
|Founded||14 March 1923|
|2018–19||TFF First League, 2nd (promoted)|
Domestically, the club have won the Turkish Cup twice, in 1987 and 2001. They have also won the former Turkish Football Championship twice and the Ankara Football League a record nine times. In Europe, Gençlerbirliği's greatest success came in 2004. The club reached the fourth round of the UEFA Cup before losing to eventual champions Valencia.
Gençlerbirliği were founded in a slightly different way compared to many other football clubs, having been established by students from a high school, Ankara Erkek Lisesi (Sultani Mektebi). The students in question (Ramiz Eren, Mennan İz, Mazhar Atacanlı, Sait, Kenan, Nuri, Namık Katoğlu, Namık Ambarcıoğlu, Rıdvan Kırmacı, Hafi Araç, Ruhi, Sarı Ziya and Hakkı) had failed to be selected for their own school team, and asked one of their student friends, Asim, to talk with his father about setting up a football team for them to show how well they could play.
On 14 March 1923, Asim's father, the member of parliament from Muş Province, established the team for his son and his friends. Since all the members of the team were students he chose the name 'Youth Union' (Turkish: Gençlerbirliği). They elected Sarı Ziya's father Faik Bey as their first chairman.
Subsequently, these young students wanted to play against the school team which had not selected them. Gençlerbirliği won the game, played at "Hamit tarlası", 3–0. According to these young rebellious players this victory forged the identity of their new team.
They won the regional Ankara Football League a record nine times between 1923 and 1959, when the league had first level status before the introduction of a nationwide league. Their greatest success domestically were the victories in the former Turkish Football Championship, when they became Turkish champions in 1941 and 1946. Gençler entered the Turkish National League in 1959 and played 12 seasons until relegation in the 1969–70 season. They played in the second level until relegation to third level in the 1978–79 season. The club came back to second level after the merger of the third level with second level, at the end of the 1979–80 season. They finished second from last in Group A of the Second League, and had to relegate to the regional league. But, since the number of teams in the second division was increased, Gençlerbirliği were readmitted. The club won Group D in the 1982–83 season and finally returned to the top-flight after 13 years. They relegated again in 1987–88 season. Finally, Gençlerbirliği returned to the top-flight in the 1988–89 season, in their first return attempt. Gençlerbirliği's most successful seasons in the Süper Lig are 1965–66 and 2002–03, when they reached the third place. At the end of the 2017–18 season Gençler only reached the 17th place and as a result the club relegated to the second tier TFF First League.
There are two rumors about how Gençlerbirliği got their team colors, black and red:
- The young students went to a local haberdashers and the only available colors were black and red. They purchased these colors to sew their own kit.
- The outskirts of Ankara during spring time see plenty of poppy flowers (Gelincik) blooming and Gençlerbirliği selected the red and black of this flower for their colors. Gençlerbirliği merchandise in their store is usually called Gelincik by their supporters.
Gençlerbirliği's arch-rival are the neighbouring club Ankaragücü and games between the clubs are considered as the "Derby of the Capital".
Youth academy and scouting
Gençlerbirliği have always been one of the teams in Turkey most notable for their talented young footballers that they procure through scouting both in Turkey and throughout Europe and Africa. For example, Geremi was scouted and raised by the club, transferred to Real Madrid and later Chelsea. Another of Gençlerbirliği's young stars Isaac Promise received the 2005–06 Super League Individual Youth player of the Year award.
Gençlerbirliği's state-of-the-art youth academy is located in Beştepe, Ankara with 50 acres (200,000 m2) of training facilities (Beştepe İlhan Cavcav Tesisleri).
Gençlerbirliği had been run by İlhan Cavcav from 1978 until his death in 2017. With Cavcav's help, Gençlerbirliği have become one of the more stable clubs in Turkey. This has been achieved mainly through the departure of the most talented players every season to the other clubs in Turkey. Departing players are usually replaced with much cheaper imports from Turkey, Europe or Africa.
- Winners (2): 1986–87, 2000–01
- Runners-up (3): 2002–03, 2003–04, 2007–08
- Runners-up (1): 1946
- Winners (9) (record): 1929–30, 1931–32, 1932–33, 1934–35, 1939–40, 1940–41, 1945–46, 1949–50, 1950–51
- Runners-up (7): 1925–26, 1926–27, 1928–29, 1933–34, 1936–37, 1942–43, 1947–48
UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Most capped players
- See Category:Gençlerbirliği S.K. footballers
- Hacettepe SK, the reserve team of Gençlerbirliği.
- "Gençlerbirliği'nin Tarihçesi". gencler.org (in Turkish). Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- "Turkey – List of Ankara League Champions". rsssf.com. RSSSF. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- "Turkey – List of Champions". rsssf.com. RSSSF. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- Genclerbirligi team profile Archived 17 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine turkish-football.com (English) accessed 27 Jan 2012
- "A Takimi". Gençlerbirliği S.K.