Şenes Erzik has retired from his UEFA duties at the Congress in Vienna, and was given the highest praise by Michel Platini as he was made an honorary UEFA member.
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A UEFA Executive Committee member since 1990, Şenes Erzik can look back with pride as he retires from his UEFA duties at the XXXIX Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna, having been rewarded for his long and outstanding service to the European game by joining the distinguished group of UEFA honorary members.
The former Turkish Football Federation (TFF) president received a standing ovation from UEFA Congress delegates as UEFA President Michel Platini bestowed UEFA honorary membership upon him in Vienna. "There is no doubt that the man who is about to be made a UEFA honorary member deserves it more than any other leader in football today," said Mr Platini.
"I do not intend to list all of the positions he has held in our various committees, all of the working groups he has chaired, all of the reports he has helped to draft, or the number of Executive Committee meetings he has attended," Mr Platini added. "For he has been a UEFA vice-president for over 20 years, and he has sat on our committees for almost 35 years.
"This man is a gentleman," the UEFA President said. "This man is respected and respectful – respectful of values, principles and all people, regardless of their position. This man is the very embodiment of wisdom. Indeed, one might even say that he is wisdom itself.
"But he is also a passionate man – passionate about the sport of football, about UEFA, about his wife and family, about his beautiful country, which sits at the crossroads of different continents and civilisations, about openness towards others and the right to be different, and about the quest for compromise and the avoidance of pointless and sterile conflict. This is a man of dialogue; a man of heart; an honest man."
Born on the shores of the Black Sea in Giresun on 18 September 1942, Erzik was educated at Robert College in Istanbul, going on to the Bosporus University school of business administration and economics. A football enthusiast from childhood, he was a prolific striker until professional life came calling. At various times Erzik was a banker, a UNICEF project manager and a businessman.
Appointed to the TFF board for the first time in 1977, he was president from 1989 to 1997, a period that coincided – in his own words – with a "revolution" in Turkish football at club and international levels. Galatasaray AŞ won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2000, while Turkey shone at EURO '96 and proceeded to take bronze at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and reach the last four at UEFA EURO 2008.
Erzik became a UEFA vice-president in 1994 and has held a considerable number of positions within the European organisation, as a committee chairman, heading working groups and representing the UEFA Executive Committee on numerous bodies. He has also been a member of the FIFA Executive Committee since 1996.
"I was lucky to be a member of a big and loving family," said Erzik in his speech to the Vienna Congress. "My past and present family helped to shape my moral values. My values guided me through difficult and challenging times. Most importantly, my values supported me to understand the importance of integrity in one's career.
"I have been a lucky member of the European football family, through which I befriended [UEFA] Presidents Johansson and Platini, dozens of Executive Committee members – my colleagues – presidents and general secretaries of national associations, and professionals of UEFA. All of you are my bigger family, which I am proud to be a member of.
"I must thank the national associations for supporting me through my 25-year tenure as a member of the [UEFA] Executive Committee," he said. "I was lucky all through my fabulous football journey, witnessing and being part of some of the most important changes in European football.
"To say farewell is very difficult, and it is even more difficult to really mean it," Erzik concluded. "Today I am saying farewell to my duties and responsibilities in UEFA. However, this farewell does not include my lifetime friendship with the members of the football family. I can assure you that I and my wife Dilek will always be your true lifetime friends and I will never say farewell to our friendship. You will always be deep in our hearts."