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The feeling was 'wow, this is different'

Posted on 11 December 2014  - 10:00

Aaron Lennon will never forget the only previous time we’ve stepped out in Istanbul.

Teams walk out at the Inonu Stadium, October 2006Hossam Ghaly celebrates his goal with Danny Murphy and Tom HuddlestoneAaron in action against Besiktas at the Lane in October

That was back on October 19, 2006 when we faced Besiktas in the group stage of the UEFA Cup.

Those present at the Black Eagles’ former Inonu Stadium - currently being rebuilt into the Vodafone Arena - can probably still recall the noise of the home fans and how they sportingly applauded us off after our 2-0 victory.

Hossam Ghaly and Dimitar Berbatov scored the goals and the experience left a lasting impression on Aaron, 19 at the time and just over a year into his Spurs career.

“I’ll never forget it,” said Aaron, who came off the bench in the second half. “The atmosphere was crazy, electric, incredible.

“From the moment we arrived the feeling was ‘wow, this is different’ and at the same time it was brilliant. I’d never experienced that before.

“Even now, it’s probably the loudest, most intimidating atmosphere I’ve been in.

“The stadium was full when we got there. The noise when we came out, it left you feeling like perhaps you’d done something wrong to even be in there!

“We were all thinking ‘what’s going on here?’. Like I said, these things, you never forget them. I can remember that night as if it was yesterday. It sticks in my mind. They sang the whole game, made that incredible noise, we won and they then applauded us off!”

Below: Aaron trains at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night

train_besk730

Eight years later, Aaron has 57 European appearances for us under his belt and is second only to the great Steve Perryman.

“To play in Europe and see the different types of atmospheres, crowds, stadiums, it was all new to me at that time and just brilliant,” he added. “The experience the competition gives you playing all around Europe is invaluable.”