Terim has managed several clubs in Italy and Turkey, as well as the Turkish national team. In a survey conducted by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) in 80 countries, he was placed among the best eight managers in the world, receiving his award at a ceremony held in Rothenburg, Germany, on 8 January 2001. Terim received a nomination for UEFA manager of the year 2008, and Eurosport named him the best coach at UEFA Euro 2008. In December 2008, he was ranked the seventh-best football manager in the world by World Soccer Magazine in 2008. Terim resigned as manager of Turkey in October 2009 after their failure to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals. His last post as a club manager was at Galatasaray from 2011 to 2013, his third term there.
In 1969, Terim began his professional football career with Adana Demirspor. Because of his financial difficulties, he was the only player in the team who was being paid secretly by the club at the time. He became the team captain three years later. Terim played for Adana Demirspor until 1974, when he joined Galatasaray as a sweeper. As the team captain, he had to fill in for injured defenders and eventually he ended up playing regularly as a sweeper/defender. Terim played 11 years for the Istanbul club. During that time, the club never won the Turkish league championship trophy.
He played for the Turkey national team 51 times between 1974 and 1985 and was the national team captain for 35 international matches, setting the national record in both categories at that time. He ended his playing career at Galatasaray in 1985. Abdullah Gegiç, a famous football coach with Partizan in the former Yugoslavia and Eskişehirspor in Turkey, knew Terim from his days as a central defender and described him as an intelligent defender with "Beckenbauer-like" qualities. Gegiç attributed Terim's successes as a coach to the unique understanding of the game that he developed while playing as a central defender.
After retiring from professional football his first training appointment came from Jupp Derwall while they were both at Galatasaray. Terim's coaching career began when he was appointed the coach of Ankaragücü. He coached the club for 18 months before moving on to coach Göztepe in İzmir for a year. He had no significant success with either team. He was appointed as assistant to Turkey's national coach, Sepp Piontek, in 1990. He also coached the Turkey under-21 team. After serving as assistant coach for three years, he was appointed coach in 1993. Under his management, Turkey qualified for the final tournament of European Football Championship in 1996, for the first time in its history. Although they did not perform well in the tournament, losing all their matches and not scoring any goals, qualification was still considered a great achievement for Turkish football.
After Euro 1996, Terim signed a contract with Galatasaray. Under his management Galatasaray won the Turkish league championship for four consecutive years and the UEFA Cup in 2000, making Terim the most successful Galatasaray manager in its history. His departure allowed Mircea Lucescu to clinch the UEFA Super Cup in 2000 for Galatasaray.
Terim moved from Galatasaray to the Italian Serie A, signing a one-year contract with Fiorentina. His aggressive style of football and his tense relationship with club president and owner Vittorio Cecchi Gori made Terim popular among Fiorentina fans. He made a good start, defeating Milan (4–0), holding Juventus to a 3–3 draw and eliminating Milan 4–2 on aggregate to reach the final of the Coppa Italia. However, in the middle of the 2000–01 season, he announced he would not renew his contract, because Cecchi Gori did not intend to make the investments that he requested. The team's performance declined significantly from then on, and his continuing clashes with Cecchi Gori led Terim to resign before the season ended. The Romanian football legend Gheorghe Hagi praised his work in Florence: "In five months he built up a phenomenal side at Fiorentina. Name me another foreigner capable of that. He's extraordinary – he could coach any side."
In the summer of 2001, Terim was appointed coach of Milan after turning down offers from Barcelona and Liverpool. He transformed Milan's system, employing a style very similar to the total football of Rinus Michels, playing a 4–3–1–2 formation with Rui Costa as a key player. Terim built a highly attacking side, but during this period Milan was well known for being vulnerable at the back, conceding goals and drawing against lesser teams. After several disappointing results, his contract was terminated after only five months.
In the summer of 2002, Terim returned to Galatasaray. However, internal problems within Galatasaray's management, financial difficulties at the club and the failure of his transfer policies led to a disappointing performance, and he resigned in March 2004, taking a break in his managing career. Clubs like Internazionale and Roma tried to lure him back to Serie A, but he did not depart.
In the summer of 2005, Terim became the manager of the Turkey national team for a second time, taking charge of their last three qualifying matches (held in September and October 2005) – against Denmark, Ukraine and Albania – in UEFA qualifying Group 2 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Turkey finished second in the group and thus advanced to the two-leg play-off against Switzerland, who won the first leg 2–0 in Bern. Turkey won the second leg 4–2 in Istanbul, but Switzerland advanced to the 2006 World Cup finals on the away goals rule.
Turkey started Euro 2008 by losing to Portugal. Against Switzerland, they were trailing at half-time but snatched a win two minutes into stoppage time. In the final group match, against the Czech Republic, Turkey reversed a two-goal deficit by scoring three goals in the final 15 minutes. Their evenly matched quarter-final clash with Croatia went to a penalty shootout, which Turkey won. Turkey lost to Germany in the semi-finals. During their estimated 490 minutes of playing time in this tournament, Turkey only led for 13 minutes.
After the successful Euro 2008 campaign, Terim was recommended by former Newcastle United manager Bobby Robson for the Newcastle position, but he was not appointed. Terim's contract was extended to 2012 at the conclusion of the tournament, despite heavy speculation that he might return to Italy or go to England to manage at club level.
In 2010 World Cup UEFA qualifying, Group 5, as of April 2009, Turkey had won two matches, drawn two and lost two, leaving them four points behind second-placed Bosnia and Herzegovina. This performance saw Turkey move up to tenth position in the FIFA World Rankings. On 11 October 2009, seeing that his country could no longer finish in the top two of Group 5, Terim announced his resignation. Turkey finished Group 5 in third position.
Galatasaray failed to qualify for European football in the 2010–11 season. After internal conflict among board members and the poor performance of the team during the 2010–11 Süper Lig season, Galatasaray appointed a new chairman, Ünal Aysal. Aysal's first act was to appoint Terim, his first and only choice, as manager – his third time to manage Galatasaray.
Galatasaray finished the 2011–12 Süper Lig season with 77 points, nine points ahead of rivals Fenerbahçe. The top four teams in the regular season – Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş – entered the Championship Group of the European play-offs. A new round-robin play-off format was introduced this season for the first time in the Süper Lig. In the last round of the play-offs, Galatasaray won its 18th title with a scoreless draw against Fenerbahçe at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium. It was one of Galatasaray's best seasons, marked by the good performances of young players such as Semih Kaya and Emre Çolak.
In the third week of the 2012–13 Süper Lig season, Terim earned his 200th win as a Galatasary coach against Bursaspor. In addition, Terim was invited to the UEFA Elite Managers Forum for a second time in 2012. (The first time was in 2002.) Galatasaray made a poor start to the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League season, losing the first two group matches in Group H, but they won three of their last four group matches to advance to the Round of 16. Galatasaray player Burak Yılmaz finished the group stages of the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League as top scorer, with 6 goals in 501 minutes, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the same number of goals in 540 minutes.
In the round of 16, Galatasaray eliminated Schalke 04 4–3 on aggregate. In the quarter-finals, they played Real Madrid – their first official match since the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League. Galatasaray lost 3–0 at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, but won the second match 3–2 in Türk Telekom Arena. On 5 May 2013, Galatasaray secured its 19th title in the Süper Lig two weeks before the end of the season.
On 24 September 2013, Terim was relieved of his club duties after overseeing one win and three draws in four league matches in the 2013–14 Süper Lig season, plus a 6–1 home defeat in the 2013–14 Champions League group stage opening match against Real Madrid. The club's decision to sack Terim was taken after Terim and the board members had held a two-hour meeting at the Türk Telekom Arena in the afternoon of 24 September, followed by a unanimous vote by the board. The club stated Terim had rejected an offer of a two-year extension on his current contract, which had been due to expire in June 2014. Terim was directing a training session at the club's facilities when the board's decision was publicized later that day. As the news filtered out, dozens of supporters reportedly assembled in front of the training facilities to protest the decision, calling on the board to resign.
On 22 August 2013, Terim was appointed interim manager of Turkey, replacing Abdullah Avcı, ahead of four critical 2014 World Cup UEFA Group D qualifying matches. Turkey won their next three qualifying matches (against Andorra, Romania and Estonia), but lost their last qualifying match against the Netherlands 2–0 in Istanbul. Turkey finished Group D in fourth position and therefore did not qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals.
Under his tenure, Turkey also lost the first two group matches against Iceland and the Czech Republic. They also drew the next game against outsiders Latvia, lost in a friendly clash against Brazil by a wide margin and closed the year with a brink of success by beating Kazakhstan in a final qualifier of 2014. Later in the UEFA Euro qualifiers, in 2015 Turkey drew 1–1 with the Netherlands, defeated Kazakhstan 1–0, drew with Latvia 1–1, defeated the Netherlands 3–0, defeated the Czech Republic 2–0 and defeated Iceland 1–0, therefore qualifying as the best third-placed team and automatically being sent to the Euro 2016 final stages.As of 11 June 2017
As of 16 April 2014
Turkish Cup: 1975–76, 1981–82, 1984–85
Turkish Super Cup: 1982
Mediterranean Games: 1993
National Team Turkey
UEFA European Championship: 2008 Semi-finalist
Süper Lig (6): 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2011–12, 2012–13
Turkish Cup (2): 1998–99, 1999–00,
Turkish Super Cup (4): 1996, 1997, 2012, 2013
UEFA Cup: 1999–00
1998 Turkey State Medal of Distinguished Service by President Süleyman Demirel.
2008 Italy Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) by the Italian state at a reception hosted by the Italian embassy in Ankara.
He was born in Adana, Turkey, to Nuriye and Talat Terim. Talat, his father, is a Turkish Cypriot who emigrated to Turkey. He is married to Fulya Terim. They have two daughters, Merve and Buse. Merve is married to Ahmet Baran, and Buse is married to Volkan Bahçekapılı.