What happened to Chris and Kev as Leeds United and Hull City send messages to fans
Hull City have become a club synonymous with Turkey since Acun Ilicali took over the club and Turkish flags have adorned the MKM Stadium.
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It was a night Leeds United fans will never forget as two lifelong supporters had their lives taken as they followed their beloved club. A young Whites side, guided by the management of David O’Leary and containing bright prospects like Ian Harte, Alan Smith and Harry Kewell, was impressing in the Premier League and in Europe and giving their supporters a whole host of moments to cherish.
The UEFA Cup run during the 1999/2000 season provided some remarkable moments - but it would end in tragic circumstances during the first leg of a semi-final meeting with Turkish club Galatasaray. After seeing off the likes of Spartak Moscow, Slavia Prague and Roma, O’Leary’s side travelled to Istanbul for the first of two meetings with the Super Lig club.
But it was events off the pitch that would completely overshadow the on-field action as Whites supporters Kevin Speight and Christopher Loftus were fatally stabbed less than 24 hours before the game. The impact of a devastating night in Istanbul is still felt to this day as Leeds fans still felt the pain and anguish caused by the events in Istanbul.
Just hours after their arrival in Turkey, Leeds supporters got caught up in violent scenes and both Speight, 40, and Loftus, 37, were tragically killed after receiving fatal stab wounds. Six other Leeds supporters were injured throughout a night that will go down in history for all of the wrong reasons.
Peter Ridsdale, Leeds chairman at the time, made his way to the Taksim Hospital when news of the troubles filtered through and refused to comment on any talk of the first leg going ahead as he focused on the families of Speight and Loftus. He told the awaiting media: "When you see a man having to identify the body of his brother with a massive stab wound in his chest it just isn't what you'd associate with football."
In a decision that still angers to this day, UEFA, following initial consultation with the clubs and the local authorities, decided the game would go ahead in a decision described by FA executive director David Davies as ‘frankly, the least worst option’’.
Leeds were beaten 2-0 just 24 hours later and the Turks progressed with a 2-2 draw on an emotional night at Elland Road - but events on the pitch mattered little as the Whites supporters and everyone connected with their beloved club struggled to come to terms with the passing of two beloved fans and the lack of compassion shown by European football’s authorities.
Just as they had at Galatasaray’s Ali Sami Yen stadium, Whites supporters remember the tragic events and the passing of Chris and Kev by turning their back on the action in the Leeds game that falls closest to the anniversary of that fateful night.
Wednesday night’s short trip to Hull City, owned by Turkish businessman Acun Illicali, have brought Chris and Kev to the forefront of minds once again - but as a plaque at Elland Road’s East Stand states: ‘They will never be forgotten’ and the comments made by Ilicali and Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear in the 24 hours before the meeting of their clubs show that statement remains true to this day.
They will never be forgotten.