He has had his ups and downs, scoring droughts, and plenty of competition from fellow strikers, but Fenerbahçe fans always had a soft spot for Moussa Sow, and in the 2-1 UEFA Europa League win against Manchester United, he repaid their faith in style.
Barely 65 seconds into the game, Sow hit an acrobatic overhead kick past David De Gea – an early contender for goal of the season, but not such an oddity for Sow, who has scored similar ones against city rivals Galatasaray and Beşiktaş. “Sow doesn’t score normal goals,” is a well-known phrase in Turkish football.
The 30-year-old was not expected to start against United, with Robin van Persie scoring three goals and laying another in his last three competitive starts, and Emmanuel Emenike having a good year in continental competition. Sow, by contrast, had scored just once in his eight Fenerbahçe appearances since returning to the club on loan from Dubai-based Al Ahli.
UEFA.com asked Dick Advocaat what Sow’s task was against United, and the Fenerbahçe coach smiled and simply said: “To score a goal.”
He added: “The way he played tonight; he works his socks off to get a good result. I’m very happy for the team that he could do that.”
Sow came to Turkey during the 2011/12 campaign, scoring eight goals in 14 games in his first term. He had lean spells in the seasons that followed, but managed to maintain a place in the team, despite the presences of the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Alex, Pierre Webó, Van Persie and Emenike.
His importance to the team was not necessarily about numbers. Loyal and emotional, fans have not forgotten his tears of frustration after he missed a host of chances in a March 2014 game against Kayseri Erciyesspor, and he wept again when le left for Al Ahli in the summer of 2015. He scored plenty in Dubai, but when Fenerbahçe needed a striker this season, the Senegalese international was welcomed back to Istanbul with open arms.
On Thursday night, United boss José Mourinho said: “Fenerbahçe played an emotional game. Football is an emotional game.”
That is especially true in Turkey, and Turkish fans appreciate emotional players. At full-time, the Şükrü Saracoğlu crowd called the team back for a standing ovation, but there was only one player who got a chant of his own: “Moussa, Moussa!” It was not undeserved – partly for an unforgettable 90 minutes against United, but also for his undiminished passion for the club.