Welcome to Hell revisited for Man Utd

Video: Manchester United enter the cauldron-like Ali Sami Yen Stadium in 1993

Manchester United face Galatasaray in Istanbul tonight with memories still fresh of the Red Devils' Champions League elimination at the hands of their hosts 19 years ago.

Former defender Gary Pallister was a member of the squad who went there in November 1993 and even now he cannot quite believe what he witnessed on that trip.

"It was very intimidating I have never experienced anything like it in my life," the 47-year-old said.

"They let the supporters in at the airport at Istanbul when our plane landed and we were greeted with all the 'Welcome to Hell' banners - it was unnerving to say the very least.

"I remember we were staying in this beautiful place on the Bosphorus.

"I was the last off the bus carrying my kit and was maybe 30 yards behind the rest of the lads as they were going to check in.

"One of the bell boys was standing by the door and I smiled at him and he ran his finger across his throat.

"I carried on walking thinking we are not safe in the hotel.

"The whole stay was about intimidation: we had the coach windows put through and Peter Schmeichel had phone calls put through to his room late at night."

Things did not improve for the side when they got to the stadium the following day for the match.

"I failed a fitness test just before the game and I was sitting in the stands with Mark Hughes and even there we didn't feel completely safe," the ex-Red Devils centre-back added.

"We went out on to the pitch two hours before kick-off and the noise from the stands was like the game was already going on - they were all jumping up and down, shouting and singing.

"That was a great, incredible atmosphere. It was just the shenanigans that surrounded it that made it so unpleasant.

"Everything seemed as if we were allowed to be attacked.

"There was the bus incident and the fact that the police should never have let the fans into the airport with the banners that they had.

"It was all about putting a team out of its comfort zone and if you have done that then you have won half the battle.

"We were not then an experienced European team.

"We had won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1991 but this was our first Champions League experience away from home."

In 1993 when we came here it was incredible. It was something new and quite frightening.

But we've been here a few times since and we're getting used to the Turkish fanaticism and enthusiasm.

– Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Manchester Utd midfielder Paul Ince took it all in his stride. Credit: PA

There have been four other meetings besides the 'Welcome to Hell' game between the two sides - and United are unbeaten in all four:

October 1993: Manchester United 3 Galatasaray 3

All was going well for United in their bid to reach the group stages as they raced into a two-goal first-leg lead. But the visitors fought back and it took a late Eric Cantona equaliser to give United hope for the return.

November 1993: Galatasaray 0 Manchester United 0

United never got to grips with their task as the Galatasaray fans created the most intimidating atmosphere, including the infamous 'Welcome to Hell' banner at the old Ali Sami Yen stadium. Cantona was sent off after the final whistle and Bryan Robson was struck by baton-wielding police at the Red Devils crashed out on away goals.

September 1994: Galatasaray 0 Manchester United 0

A much quieter affair this time around - but still no goals for United, which was to prove costly later in the competition.

December 1994: Manchester United 4 Galatasaray 0

With virtually no chance of qualifying, Ferguson went with youth in the final group game and was rewarded with United's biggest European win at Old Trafford in 26 years. Simon Davies, David Beckham, Roy Keane and a Bulent Korkmaz own goal did the damage.

September 2012: Manchester United 1 Galatasaray 0

Michael Carrick's early goal was enough to give United a rather fortunate win. Nani missed from the spot, but Galatasaray twice hit the woodwork and David de Gea made two vital late saves.